Epistle to the Hebrews 10: 19-25 (NIV)
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Conscious of the demands on Parliamentarians’ time, particularly in Canberra when Parliament is sitting, I hesitate to urge too vocally that those who are Christians should meet together. Many do, in small groups, formally and informally during the sitting weeks and I thank God for this. Additionally I urge Parliamentarians to attend services of worship regularly when at home in their electorates, conscious all the while of the competing demands on their time there, and of how essential it is that they devote attention to family life.
But this invitation (perhaps it is a command) in the Epistle to the Hebrews, extended to those who follow Jesus, comes after much sound and careful reasoning (as is indicated by the “therefore, … since” statements of verses 19-21). We are to take it seriously.
Forgiven and cleansed “by the blood of Jesus” (verse 19), we are urged, in full assurance of faith, to draw near to God. We are urged to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. We are urged to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. We are urged not to give up meeting together. We are urged to encourage one another.
Christians are meant to be people of community. Human beings are made in the image of God and this “image” includes the relationship within the Trinity. We are saved in community, we are to serve others in community and community awaits us after this life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (Colossians 3: 12-13). Then, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom …” (Colossians 3: 15-16).
As “members of one body”, Christians are not intended to function alone. We are to embrace everything that builds up community in Christ. Paul has addressed this metaphor of the body in greater detail elsewhere, particularly in chapter 12 of the first Epistle to the Corinthian church. We support one another and are supported in Christian community. So let us not give up meeting together, just because it is difficult to find the time to do so. Let us make meeting with others who share our Christian faith an essential commitment in our Parliamentary and personal diaries.