In the Sunday School class I teach at church, we have been going over first principles of our doctrine, starting with the covenants made to Adam and Eve, Abraham, and David. We have also been discussing significant events between these three covenants. This Sunday, we spent some time discussing the Sabbath.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
It is interesting to note that observing the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments. It's purpose was to draw man's focus from man to God. Later, in the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had so many rituals and rules about following the Sabbath that they completely missed the purpose.
What was the purpose? I think it was to refocus, to bring spiritual renewal. As our constantly-working culture has begun to discover, working all the time leads to problems. We NEED rest. We need renewal. God knew so much better than we did that humans needed that day. But it wasn't just a day of relaxation, it was a day to focus on Him. He knew that the cares of daily life would draw us away from Him. So He commanded that one day be set aside to Him, because He knew we needed that.
We still do. We might not follow the Sabbath to the T, but we do follow it in principle. Instead, we are commanded to meet together on a weekly basis. I don't take this commandment lightly. There is a REASON God told us to do this. It's not just a suggestion, it's a reminder that if we don't leave time for that weekly renewal (which really should happen on a daily basis), the cares of this world will pull us away.
Miss one week of church? The second week becomes easier. Then, the third and the fourth week. Maybe it seems like not such a big deal and we still believe in God. But God knows what we need. It's not to remember Him in the quiet of our home on Sundays. It's not to remember Jesus in the woods. It's to meet with those of like faith. I truly believe that is an essential piece. Meeting together brings encouragement to us and to others. That's not to say that we can't remember Him individually, but we do need that meeting together at least weekly.
Too often, we believe that church is about what it brings to us. I don't believe it always is. Hopefully it brings us encouragement and renewal, but sometimes I understand that we just don't feel like being there. Be there anyway.
Make meeting together your first priority. It shows others and it shows God what is priority in your life! Next time you plan a vacation, plan it so that you can still meet with those of the faith. Next time you go on a road trip, make sure you don't spend Sunday morning driving. Next time you are faced with a decision to either worship God alone or in fellowship with others, choose fellowship with others. God knows what we need so much more than we do and I am so thankful for that. I'm also so thankful for those that I meet with on a weekly basis to give me much needed encouragement from my day-to-day life.
Lift up your eyes, look up from the drudgery of life! Rejoice because of the hope God has given each of us and encourage each other with this hope!