Gleanings of Wheat: A Blog dedicated to cooking, kids, and Christ

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Forsake not the assembling?

I'm a big fan of the book of Hebrews, in fact 4:16 is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. I was reading/ reflecting on somethings today and these verses came to mind:

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)

I've been thinking a lot about the Body of Christ lately, especially in regards to accountability/ encouragement/ church membership. I know a lot of people who claim (and may be) to be Christians but have completely isolated themselves from any form of formal gathering. The only discussion of Biblical things that goes on in their lives takes place online, or in random conversations as they discover another person is a Christian. They are not in a local church, and in fact reject the necessity of the local church. I know of a group of people who "meet" in an online chat room on Sundays for "church." I've listened in to the lessons in the past and at that time the use of Scripture and the way it was explained was Biblical/ Orthodox, if not in the way it is practiced. After the teaching was over there would be a time for prayer requests.

But is that church? I can't help but disagree, lovingly, with my friends who say it is. They'll insist that all the aspects of the local church are there, including the institute of the Lord's Supper (basically they all have to make sure they have juice and bread on hand in their individual houses) - how do they baptize new members? But again, I'm not sure they can say this with as much certainty as they could if they were actually in a church meeting bodily. My main concern, I suppose, is that there really is no accountability.

If I were struggling with a sin but didn't share this sin during the "prayer meeting" how are they supposed to help hold me accountable? How are they supposed to exhort me to return to my first love if they don't know I've left Him? How are they supposed to turn a brother from his sin (James 5:18-20) if they have no knowledge of his sin? A local church does not prevent deception of one's sins, but it certainly makes it more difficult.

These people who don't meet at all, or meet only online, can encourage each other as they stumble into each other but I fear they are missing out on other vital/ regularly occuring things that being a part of a local church can aid in. They can't come together to share a Thanksgiving Day meal, they can't gather together to repair their church building and there by be edified by seeing people of all walks of life join together to accomplish a need, and they can't rejoice together in the ordinances of the Church.