Gather | Devotion #6: Not Forsaking
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor
Hebrews 10:25 in the King James Version is, quite honestly, a little intimidating, a little bold, and a little unrelenting, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Growing up in a pretty strict, conservative Baptist church, this verse was wielded around with some power. I attended church, for a long time, out of an obligation. It was not out of a passion to learn or to be surrounded by other Christians, but as a check on my “to-do” Christian list that I had made up in my mind. I failed to read the verses before verse 25 and really the entirety of verse 25. When you put the verse in context, it is not a demand to be wielded but an answer to your sometimes hurting soul that is being beaten up out in the world. It is important to take a closer look to those verses, see what gathering with saints really does for us, and why God commands us to not put this off or leave it in our childhood.
Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” This is a beautiful way to say we have a completely open road straight to God. We no longer have to go through a priest, we no longer have a curtain that separates us from God, and we have “Confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,” through the cross we have direct access to God. We should celebrate this liberty; we should be joyful and thankful to be able to go to God with no impediments.
With the idea of having direct access to God in mind, verses 23-25, for me seem different. It is no longer a demand but a promise from someone that is the definition of faithful God. Verses 23-25 are one thought, and they say, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” See God knew that we needed each other, that we needed a time, a community to help us love each other, love those that are hard to love, and to do good. We do not naturally do good, or love people. We need help, and God answered that need in the church.
Do not forget why we gather together, not as a line item on our to-do list to be checked off but to encourage us, remind us how and why we should do good and love each other and others.