Monday, September 19, 2016

A Bad Reason for Returning to the Institution: You've Been Told You Are Being Disobedient


How many times have you had Hebrews 10:24-25 used against you?

For review, these two verses say, "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."

When you leave institutional Christianity behind for greener pastures it can at times be very difficult to find like-minded others. Frankly, sometimes it takes a lonnnnnnnnnng time to meet up with believers who have the same convictions you do. Because of this, many of us have faced extended periods of wandering in the church wilderness. You may be there right now.

If you are there, please know that you are not being disobedient. Simply because you are not part of a local church or not going to weekly "worship services," this does not mean that you are somehow sinning. Please rid that thought from your mind.

The author of Hebrews (whoever he was) wrote his letter to a largely Jewish, Christian audience. His purpose was to encourage them in the midst of persecution. In particular, he warned them repeatedly about turning away from the faith back to Judaism. It is within that context that Hebrews 10:24-25 comes along. Some had fallen into the bad habit of not meeting with other believers at all; they had the opportunity, but they simply weren't doing it. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with Christians who want to gather simply with others but cannot locate them.

The last thing you want to do is return to institutional trappings because you've been told you are being disobedient. First, you would be miserable. And second, you are in no manner disobeying our Lord. In fact, I would argue that you are being extremely obedient by venturing away from the comfy, easy institution into the unknown. If you are pursuing the church as modeled for us in the New Testament, then God will be pleased. If you are done with going through the motions and are seeking to live out a vibrant, active church life, then I commend you. Keep it up.

4 comments:

Paul G said...

Hi Eric, I know what you saying is true. I have three close friends who wrestle with those passages of Hebrew 10:25, they sill go to the institutional church and also have regular fellowship with us.
I know what is right for me and my house, but as for my friends, I'm not sure, because there are sins which are sins to my friends but are not sin to me because of faith.
And for that reason I don't try to convince them too strongly to leave the institutional church, and I hope that the Lord Jesus will perform His perfect work in them.
I hope that I make sense ? :-)

Peter Horvatin said...

Thank you! It's a great post. When we leave the Institution there are many who are blind to the reason why your leaving even after you have explained it to them. Again, how could I go back after I know what I know!

Eric said...

Paul,

I think you are right. As long as you can have sweet fellowship with them (and they with you), then their attending institutional churches is no real problem. I just hope they don't go because they simply think they have to. To equate Hebrews 10 with worship service attendance is flat out bad biblical interpretation. However, if they feel edified and/or are able to serve within the traditional setting then it may end up being somewhat beneficial to them. The key is why they are going.

Eric said...

Peter,

Well said. It's fascinating how many believers simply do not understand even after we have explained it to them. My guess is that this is related to their never having thought about these issues. Let's pray that they do.