This winter we have enjoyed using a wood stove that helps add extra heat to our house, particularly in the basement where it is normally somewhat cooler. To me, watching burning coals is fascinating, seeing how the orange glow changes and moves. So a story I heard recently caught my attention.
A pastor went to visit the home of a man who had not been in church for some time. When he arrived at the home, the man was sitting in front of a fire. So the pastor sat with him. Not being sure what to say, the pastor just sat silently for a while. Then he got up, went to the fire, and set a single burning coal on the hearth away from the rest of the fire. Then he sat back down, and they continued to watch the fire. The fire burned on, but the single coal began to flicker and then go out. After it went out, the pastor put it back into the fire, and it soon blazed to light again. Seeing that it was time to go, the pastor got ready to leave. As he left, the man said, “Thanks for the fiery sermon pastor.” He came to church the next Sunday.
As Christians, God has designed for us to work together and relate together. We receive our salvation through faith in Christ, and as we go throughout life, we should find contentment with God. But God also uses people to work in our lives, and He has designed for us to work together. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” God tells us not to forsake assembling together. Christians should join together. That is why we come to church. We should join together to worship the Lord. We should join together to fellowship with one another. We should join together to encourage one another and challenge one another spiritually. We should join together to pray. It can be easy to forsake assembling together. It can be easy to make excuses to miss church. Sometimes the more we are gone, the easier it is to stay away. But God has called us to fellowship together with other believers. When we try to ignore that and go through life on our own, we end up like the lonely coal sitting on the hearth and going out. No, we don’t lose our salvation by not attending church, just as we never received it in the first place by attending church. But we can lose our spiritual zeal. We can lose our desire to serve God and to know God. Instead of walking with God, we can wander away from God, allowing our relationship with Him to grow cold and distant. Instead of allowing these things to happen, we should be stirring up (“provoking”) one another to both love and good works. We should be encouraging and exhorting one another to follow God faithfully. A spiritually active church body should be fellowshipping together in order to grow spiritually and serve God effectively.