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. (ESV)
Hang on one second… “Not neglecting to meet together”? What is happening right now? We’re in the midst of the government telling us to stay indoors where you can, don’t have social gatherings, don’t have religious gatherings… And yet here the Bible tells us clearly: do not neglect to meet together.
What do we do with that? Is God displeased that we are not meeting together?
First and foremost, God cares. This is something I will be talking more about on Sunday in my video sermon. God cares for us, as His people. He is not cross or angry with us because we are doing what the government is strongly advising us to do. It is for our own health, to keep us safe. God knows. God cares. He has not turned away.
Perhaps after this COVID-19 issue has completely gone away, and we are safe to meet once again in our old Grade II listed building, perhaps we will have a fresh vigour and enthusiasm in meeting together to worship God as one body, in one locality.
But until then, we are separate, and we just can’t meet together. * (see footnote!)
However, notice what the author to the Hebrews writes in opposition to not meeting together. He writes, “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.”
Let me point out the obvious. The text says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Let’s be clear here. It is not our habit to neglect meeting together. For most of us, meeting together every Sunday is a habit. It’s just what we do. This “not meeting together” does not come naturally. It goes against the grain. It certainly can’t be said of us that we are in the habit of neglecting to meet together.
Rather, we have been forced to not meet together, due to circumstances that are totally out of our control.
So we can’t meet together physically, but, – consider. In this weird and difficult time, consider how we can stir each other to love. How can we inspire one another in loving God more? How can we inspire each other in loving our neighbours, especially in their hour(s) of need? What good works can we do for our friends, our brothers and sisters, and for those in our lives that at the moment don’t believe in Jesus?
Finally, he gives the exhortation about “encouraging one another.” What an apt word for this day. We need encouragement. And everybody reading this right at this second is able to encourage somebody else.
Stop. Think. Listen to God for a moment. Who does He want you to phone up today and encourage? Who can we get in touch with and very simply share the love of Jesus?
It is as we give encouragement to others that we will receive it ourselves.
* by the way, I hope you’ve picked up by now that we actually CAN meet together, using Zoom! Check your email for that ID number!