Monday, January 09, 2006

Forsaking the Assembly

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (Heb. 10:23-25)

Yesterday, my place of employment decided to have a management leadership conference from 9 in the AM until 4 in the PM. Being mandatory I attended thus missing morning worship. Being the second Sunday of the month the congregation to which I am a member had a pot-luck dinner after morning worship followed by a 1 PM service. They did not have an evening worship.

Thus I was unable to attend either service at the congregation to which I am a member.

This brought to mind a question. Was I obligated to attend services elsewhere that evening in order to take of communion and not forsake the assembly?

Another example: New Years Eve my home congregation cancelled evening services so that we could spend time with our families. Amy and I did so by traveling to Palmyra to be with her family. The congregation in Palmyra did have evening services. We Amy and I obligated to attend that service even though the elders to whom we are accountable to had essentially given us the night off?

What if we had stayed in Bloomington? There are other congregations in the city that held New Years Eve services. Would we be forsaking the assembly had we not attended one of their services?


mullinz8 said...

I think I’ll only comment on the work side of it because not making it to church on Sunday and Wednesday evening has become all too easy.

I would inquire as to who is making these meetings mandatory on Sunday and at such an early time. Is what ever the meeting was about not as able to do on Saturday as it is on Sunday when a majority of people typically have an activity already planned? If there is a way to ask the meeting be move then I would do it. If they are repressing your religious freedoms then they are breaking the law, not that I think it would get to that.

I have worked shoots on Sundays and I don’t enjoy them but sometimes your livelihood is at stake because we do live in a secular world.

According to Webster’s forsake means to to give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: forsook liquor. Or to leave altogether; abandon: forsook Hollywood and returned to the legitimate stage.

I’m sure Sipper or Chuck will whip out the Greek and tell me what the word really means but to me forsaken means to make a decision to not participate in something. Having to work does not actually seems to have forsaken the assembly because you still want to go. I think you’ve missed service not forsaken it.

bigsip said...

We've missed services in the past and just had a little service at home instead.

You can sing, read, pray, and do other worshipful things as a family without being "at church."

In fact, I would encourage not going sometimes just to show that worship is not just something you do "at church", but in every facet of life.

That being said, I think the verse above speaks to a habit of missing. As Christians, we form good habits like meeting together nd encouraging/strangthening the brotherhood.

I think Paul was trying to get across that you shouldn't get into the habit of missing assemblies, but try to make a happy habit of being there for other Christians.

Jamison said...

I have to disagree with Sip I am afraid.

Sure, a small service at home may be sweet and nice and short, but when church is only a few minutes away, it seems like doing church at home is because it is convienent. Now if everyone in the house is sick, then I say go for the home worship, but then again, if you are sick, I can almost imagine God understanding not going that day...

Worship isnt about us, it is about God. Ive done the little services on a vacation or whatever, but going to church for one hour is way too easy. God has blessed us in such a way that we CAN go to a church, that is close to us, without fear of being thrown in jail. Celebrate that freedom and blessing.

Just my 2 cents. As for what Mullins said, id wonder why there is a meeting on a sunday morning too. Think of the wonderful mansion youll have in heaven if you had said "Im not going, I go to church on sunday mornings" and got fired for it...

Jamison said...

i also have to disagree that "worship" is not something we do all day, everyday.

We may GLORIFY God in all that we do, everyday, but that is not worship.

God has always been a god who loves to be worshiped. Old school God didnt take sacrifices just done on the fly, while out tending the sheep. He had a specific time and place for it.

Likewise, the apostles and first churches came together at certain places on the first day of the week to worship.

I think you just used the word "worship" and perhaps meant "praise" or "glorify" but if we could worship God anyway, anytime, why go to church ever, at all?

To chase a rabbit, I feel like alot of what the church says is worship, really isnt. Preaching, or listing to a preacher, isnt worship to me. Scripture reading isnt, giving money isnt either. So i guess it comes down to singing and the Lords supper... or are all of these things put together "worship".

I dont have any answers, just shooting off my hip.

bigsip said...

It's true. Worship is about God. Again, I'm not saying you should make a habit out of not going, but I don't think missing every now and then is going to send you to Hell.

When we lived in Lincolnton and had to miss due to work, we would have a small home service and it was nice. We were able to study the Word and really meditate and discuss.

If we choose to do something like that it's out of a desire to do something that's still scriptural yet smaller in scale and more personal, not out of convenience.

Remember Matt 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (KJV)

bigsip said...

The term "worship" actually comes from the two terms "worth" and "ship". When we glorify God, we're telling Him that he is worth something to us.

In that sense, I think worship is something we should do all the time.

Assembling is something that is worship, too. I agree that it's a different type of worship and a worship we're meant to attend every first day of the week. But, it isn't all there is to a Christian's worship life.

When my family gets together on a Saturday for T-Day or Xmas and we all sit together and sing from the song book, we're worshiping because we're telling God of His worth to us.

But, again, worshiping as a body of believers at the designated meeting time (Sunday) is something we should not make a habit of forsaking. That's what Paul said. If you ever get into the habit, you are probably never going or only going a couple of times per year.

Is missing a few times per year a problem or a habit? I don't think so, especially if you're finding another outlet of worship on that very day.

bigsip said...

I totally agree with the "worship" not being worship stuff, Jamison.

I think there should be less preaching and more praying, singing, Lord's Supper, and communication as a whole that God is great!

But, I do appreciate the church's focus on the Word. I think knowing the Word is the basic part of what worship can be built upon because how can you worship effectively and fully unless you appreciate what's going on in the first place?

I think that's where so many people miss out when they're not teching their children at home or bringing them to Bible study.

You have to build the worship foundation so that there is understanding...

1 Cor 14:15 speaks to this: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (KJV)

Ryan F. said...

Very good questions indeed. Let's remember that Jesus commanded us to observe the Lord's supper every first day of the week until his return. That is the primary reason we gather together on Sunday. If you had to work, thereby missing services, I would say yes to going to another nearby church and gathering with the saints there to worship God. That is His day, we should be willing and have a desire to worship him on that day.

As for the question on New Year's, I don't necessary believe that if you had attended your home congregations services that morning, and were traveling b/c your home church cancelled services, that you are required to go where you are traveling. That would be like saying that there is always someone meeting somewhere, and we would always be obligated to go.

Back to the forsaking part, we need to be careful how we look at that verse. I agree with Mullins on the def. of the word. We must be careful though, that we don't start missing services here and there, only to justify it by saying, "well I haven't totally forsaken the assembling". Those who have fallen away started by missing a service here and there, justifying it to themselves. We ought to desire to be together with the saints to worship God. It should be that we only miss because we absolutely have to. (Such as the work thing) If that is our attitude, then I don't think we will have any problems.

Jamison said...

I see what you mean. I was not accusing anyone of missing out of convenience by the way. Hope it didnt sound that way.

But I still disagree on the term "worship" being used to describe everything we do, everyday, as worship to God. I guess I need to be learned on that sort of thing.

Ryan F. said...

Worship is actually made up two words, the one word being proskuneo. It literally means to kiss towards. It is an action that you do towards God showing your respect, reverence, honor, and loyalty. Worship is an action, but is specific. In other words, all life is not worship. Gen. 22:5, "the lad and I will go yonder and worship." Meaning they were not already worshipping, but were going somewhere to specifically worship God.

bigsip said...

Well, no. I think you've got it right.

I just think the terminology is wrong.

What we do when we assemble is the core of the brotherhood and the center of the "sacrifice of praise" we give to God.

But, the life we live is also a sacrifice of praise in its own way, just on a more personal level.

Just look at Gal 2:20: I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)

So, there's a daily living thing there, too. It's all mixed. But, we have precedents of assembly worship every first day of the week, too.

So, we meet and worship, but we hear again and again to not be Sunday Christians, but everyday Christians. So there's something to carrying worship into life there I believe.

This is an interesting study, my friends.

Brewster said...

A couple of thoughts on worship. THe bible tells us that bringing food to widows is true worship. This is a service, something the bible talks a lot about, but I think the Church has glossed over in a lot of ways.

Rom 12:1 talks about offering our bodies as living sacrifices, speaking of the day to day actions. Some translations even say this is a spiritual act of worship. Others do not, but it is clear that christianity is more than church attendance.

Intersting side thought. At FU chapel remember how if it was a christian speaker the closing prayer was at the end, but if they speaker was secular then the prayer went before he/she spoke. As if we could corral out the non christian from our worship.

Side thought #2 At my home congregation we always start with a song then an elder makes announcement. One elder always asks us to stand after his announcements for the "first song" It always irritated me because we had already sang the first song. What I finally realized is that he doesn't count the first one because his announcements aren't part of the worship, therefore the first song doesn't count.

I think we're really doing a disservice when we try to nail down the exact moments of worship. As if it is a faucet to turn on and off. Now I'm not saying that every moment of life is worship. Taking a crap isn't worship. But worship, or praise, or giving glory to God happens more than just in the pew.

Brewster said...

Ok, I'll try to bring this back to my original question. I would say that with my first question that I was obligated to attend elsewhere. The bible is pretty specific when it comes to assembling on the first day of the week, and since I had opportunity to attend a service I should have gone.

With the second example, in this case I would say I should have gone. The main reason here is that my family attended the services. Since my congregation let me off to be with my family, its pretty stupid not to attend service while my family did. Now if my family were not christians, or were not attending, then I would say there wasn't an obligation.

With the third example I'd say I am under no obligation. The elders have made a decision not to have services for a reason.

Now certainly we all have the choice to attend as often as the doors are open.

I do think that if you are missing services often then you need to look at why. I never regret going to church. Like Jamison said, its easy and even the most boring services always bring something.

That being said I think we often put too much emphasis on church attendance. As if that's the only thing you are required to do. I suspect God would much prefer a man who is living a christian life each day and might mis a service or two here and there over someone who attends every service and never gives god a second thought at home.

Brewster said...

Finally, I was quite irritated that work scheduled this meeting. Ultimately itwas for all of management which means that we couldn't have our reps on the floor working. There is no way to do that on a regular work day which leaves the weekend. Why they chose Sunday instead of Saturday I don't know. I did give HR some heck about it though.

I think we have to be careful when judging people who work on church times. If you have a good job that allows you to attend every service it is easy to judge those who have to miss sometimes. Yet are you willing to walk away from your job without something lined up? I do agreee that if your job is keeping you away all the time then you should probably look at other career options.

I'll shut up now.

Jamison said...

ryan f says he has tried to post on here, but you wont "allow him"

Brewster said...

Me? Like I personally wont allow him? I haven't even thought of Frederick in ages, that is until I saw his comment.

At the moment he certainly isn't allowed to post, but that's because we haven't invited him, but no one is stopping him from commenting

bigsip said...

I thought that caring for widows and orphans was called "true religion", not "true worship".

Either way, I agree, Brew. When we have the opportunity, we should go. But, again, I see the word "habit" in Paul's writing. He says not to make a habit of not going to the assemblies.

To me, that means missing now and then isn't going to make you hell-bound.

But, you have a problem if you miss all the time and go only 2 or 3 times a year.

Here's the verse for those who care, btw: James 1:27 - Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (KJV)

Jamison said...

i figured out how to publish his comments, see above

bigsip said...

I can see your point, Ryan, sort of...

The passage your refer to doesn't give us much to go on except to say that Abraham and Isaac were going to worship.

This was before the Ten Commandments, so we don't know for sure just howw the patriarchs worshipped.

One might assume that they kept the Sabbath, but we don't know.

Thus, Abraham and his family could have up and worshipped any time.

Obviously, they were setting a certain time and place for worship, but it was all because God had told Abe to go sacrifice Isaac. Did he wait till the Sabbath to do it?

We don't know. So, it could have been at any time.

Does this mean that we worshiped God during chapel? Does it mean we worship God when we get together on a Saturday night for an area-wide singing?

I think so, but it still doesn't negate the fact that Sunday (the day Christ arose) is THE day we are to come together and worship.

Ryan F. said...

True Sip, I believe that you can worship at any time, and on any day. My point is that "all of life is worship" is a bogus idea. I agree with Brew, taking a crap is not worship. We can however, worship on any other day of the week. Sunday is just the day specifically set aside for the saint to gather for that purpose.

Ryan F. said...

P.S. Brew, Frederick should be thought of daily.

Brewster said...

I completely agree, Ryan that we should have the desire to go to worship at every assembly. If we loath to go to church then somethng is wrong somewhere. And if we are coming up with excuses not to go then we should examine ourselves a little more.

bigsip said...

Absolutely, Brew.

To me, it's a relationship thing.

If you don't want to go see your parents, there's probably something not right in your relationship with them.

So it is with God. Only thing is, if that relationship isn't exactly right, it's always because of a personal shortcoming, it's never God's fault.

I'm glad to have worship time. We're all so blessed with it, however, that it's easy to take it for granted.

bigsip said...

I see.

Yeah, "all of life is worship" is a stretch. I guess it's better to say "all of life is available for worship".

True that not every action we take can be considered worchip, although I'm pretty proud of that crap I took this morning. It was glorious.

Brewster said...

It's all not worship, but I believe there is some kind of connecting communal something to our lives. Maybe its just that we are saved even when we're taking out the garbage or taking a dump.

Fist John talks about walking in the light as a continual thing. As if we live a life devoted to christ then in every moment we have a form of communion with him.

I'm getting a little mystical there, but I hope I make sense.