And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Are you forsaking the assembly? Or maybe a more contemporary way to ask would be, are you skipping church? If so, you need to repent and return to your local church home. Or if you are someone who does not have a Bible-believing church to call home, I would like to encourage you to find one. God commands the church to assemble and not to forsake one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). Therefore, it is a sin to neglect and/or reject the assembling of God’s people.
With that being said, I can already hear many saying, “But what about those with health issues or those who are unable to attend due to work schedules, etc.” These would be exceptional cases, not the rule. The difference between someone who has health issues and someone skipping church should be obvious. Someone who is sick or vulnerable should stay home until they are well. Likewise, with the pandemic being a prominent concern, I believe this advice is more relevant than ever. However, the pandemic is not an overarching excuse to forsake the assembly. Fear cannot rule our lives, nor can it keep us from fellowship. Though the governing authorities have had various and differing opinions on this issue, we are called to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Thus, I would advise the church to assemble with wisdom and precaution.
On the other hand, I would respond differently toward someone not being able to attend worship due to work. Though I understand it is not always feasible, I would strongly recommend trying to schedule work around the weekly corporate worship service. However, for those who are unable to do so, I would want to know more about their situation. I would want to know if they were attending the midweek service instead. Or if they were connected with a small group that meets at some point throughout the week? Though these ministry opportunities may not be the corporate assembly, it is still an opportunity to assemble with the church. I find that if the person is not coming on Sunday, very rarely do I see them attend on a Wednesday or in a small group setting. If work is not simply being used as an excuse, then the other ministry opportunities should be taken advantage of. However, many use work or busy schedules as an excuse to forsake the assembly. I would counsel those unable to attend on a weekly basis to connect with a local assembly whenever possible, even if it cannot be on a Sunday morning.
Ultimately, God knows our hearts. He knows if our desire is to be in fellowship with Him and His people. However, one should not be looking to find an excuse to not attend church. That would be breaking the command of Hebrews 10:24-25. Church should be your excuse for missing everything else. Why? Because it is the body and bride of Christ! Busyness is not an excuse. Laziness is not an excuse. Matthew 6:21 states, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What are your priorities? Where do you spend your time, money, and energy? Where is your heart? If you love Jesus, you will want to be around Him. And one of the most fundamental ways we commune with the Lord is through devotional fellowship with one another (Acts 2:42). I know so many who no longer make church a priority and the difference in their lives is considerable. God gave us the body of believers to encourage, equip, and empower each other to overcome adversity and experience God in our midst. The world is full of distractions and concerns and the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us from worshiping God in a local assembly. Divided we are weak, but together we are strong. We need church to keep us protected from false doctrine and sinful living. We need the church to stir up love and good works. We need the church to serve one another and help those in need. We need the church to be the light on a hill for this dark world. We need the church to offer hope to a lost and broken generation. WE NEED THE CHURCH.
Let us never forsake the assembly of God’s people. Christ-followers assemble!