“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
As I watched, and now reflect on Scotland’s vote for independence, one thing in particular struck me—the passion that was expressed on both sides of the argument. Whether it be Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon trying to rally the ‘Braveheart’ spirit or David Cameron and Gordon Brown fighting to keep the Union together, passion was a plenty. And it wasn’t only the politicians that were passionate about this question. A record number of people registered to vote in the referendum, with 97% of the adult population signed up and around 85% of people actually voting. It was the highest voter turnout in British history – beating every single general election. People certainly signup and turn out for things they are passionate about.
A number of years ago I heard Jimmy Carter, the former President of the USA and a committed Christian, say that he had spent literally hundreds of hours going from door to door talking to people about his campaign to be President but, rather ruefully, he said that he hadn’t spent a single hour going from door to door to talk about Christ. People certainly turn out for things they are passionate about.
According to the 2011 census 59.3% of people in England and Wales classified themselves as ‘Christian’ while a recent report by Tearfund showed that only 15% of people in the UK attended church at least once a month. There will always be some Christians who for one reason or another cannot get to church, but the size of the difference between those who identify themselves as ‘Christian’ and those who attend church is marked and indicates a lack of passion to turn out.
There is, no doubt, plenty of food for thought for Christian churches as to why there is such a low attendance but as Christians the writer of Hebrews exhorts us ‘not to give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing’. Why should we attend church regularly? First and foremost we come to worship God, but our writer gives us some other reasons here: ‘To spur one another on toward love and good deeds, and to encourage one another’. This encouragement to love each other and to do good is especially important as the world we live in is full of evil and full of bad and depressing news.
The good news is Jesus Christ is coming back; the Day is approaching when all evil will be conquered, so let’s live in the light of His coming and as we come to church let’s encourage others to do the same. If you think that’s something to be passionate about don’t only register the fact you are a Christian, turn out at church. The very fact you are there is such an encouragement to others.
Father, please enliven me with a passion in my heart to want to be an encouragement to others within the community of faith.
Study by Barry Robinson
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Saturday 11 am
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