By Chang Qing
It’s written in the Bible, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Attending meetings is something we Christians have to observe. But now, some brothers and sisters can’t do it regularly because they concern themselves with work and family life. Some of them even regard attending meetings as an extra burden, thinking that it’s enough to just do some reading of God’s words at home themselves.
Actually, the reason we can regard attending meetings as a burden and choose to sacrifice our meetings for family life and work is that we don’t understand the meaning of attending meetings and the consequences of not doing it. Today, let’s have a fellowship about it.
How Does God Look Upon Those Christians Who Don’t Attend Meetings?
God says, “You will only gain from your faith in God if you approach it as the greatest thing in your life, more important than even food, clothes, or anything else! If you only believe when you have the time, and are incapable of devoting your entire attention to your faith, and if you are always mired in confusion, then you will gain nothing.” “There are some people whose faith has never been acknowledged within God’s heart. In other words, God does not recognize that they are His followers, because He does not praise their beliefs. For these people, regardless of how many years they have followed God, their ideas and views have never changed; they are like the unbelievers, adhering to the unbelievers’ principles and ways of doing things and to the unbelievers’ laws of survival and faith. They have never accepted the word of God as their life, never believed that God’s word is truth, never intended on accepting God’s salvation, and never recognized God as their God. They see believing in God as some kind of amateur hobby, treating Him as mere spiritual sustenance; as such, they do not think it is worth it to try and understand God’s disposition or essence. … How does God look upon such people? He views them as unbelievers.”
From this we can see that as Christians we should magnify God in our heart. Whether in our life or at work, we should always put God in the first place, and take attending meetings, praying to God, and reading God’s words as the most important things to do. This is what a believer in God should do at least. If we are just satisfied with believing in God’s existence but don’t value attending meetings, and if we just take believing in God as a spiritual sustenance and concern ourselves with making money and those worldly matters every day, thinking it makes no difference whether we attend meetings or not, then by practicing belief in such a perfunctory manner, aren’t we exactly the same as nonbelievers? Nonbelievers do not love the truth, do not pursue the life that comes from God, and are engaged in earning money and satisfying their own flesh. If we believers of God share the same goal of pursuit and same direction of life as nonbelievers, what will God think of our faith? God will define us as nonbelievers according to our indifferent and perfunctory attitude toward belief in God. He won’t recognize us as His followers, because we believe in Him but never truly worship Him and we don’t want to accept His salvation or act according to His requirements. As a result, our final outcome will be like nonbelievers’, being condemned and punished by God. Thus, we can see that whether we attend meetings regularly shows whether we truly believe in God and whether we are pursuers of the truth. If we always make excuses to avoid attending meetings, and still do not turn around our wrong views on pursuit, then we won’t possibly gain the truth or life no matter how many years we have believed in God, and we will definitely end up being eliminated. Therefore, we cannot believe in God according to our own notions and imaginations, or stop attending meetings whenever we do not want to, because if we believe in God in such an amateur way until the end, God won’t recognize us as His believers.
What Lies Behind Our Frequent Absence in Gatherings Is Satan’s Scheme
To justify their absence in gatherings, many people use the excuses of being too busy with working to earn money, socializing, or taking care of their families. These excuses seemingly sound very reasonable, but unknowingly we are caught by Satan’s schemes. God says, “God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? … In warring with God, and trailing along behind Him, Satan’s objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to occupy and control those whom God wants to gain, to completely extinguish those whom God wants to gain. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession, to be used by it—this is its objective.” “To people, it seems like a world of gaiety and splendor; it is becoming more and more so, people’s hearts are all drawn to it, and many people are entrapped and unable to extricate themselves from it; great numbers will be beguiled by those who engage in trickery and sorcery. If you do not strive for progress, are without ideals, and have not rooted yourself in the true way, you will be swept away by the swelling tides of sin.”
From the words of God, we see that God is working to save us, but Satan just doesn’t want us to be gained by God. So, it tries every possible way to prevent us from coming to God. Things like money, fame and status, eating, drinking, and enjoying ourselves are all temptations to us. Satan first instilled people with all kinds of wrong viewpoints, like what we often say, “Money is not everything, but without it you can do nothing,” “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short.” These erroneous viewpoints will easily deceive us if we have no truth. When we accept these views, we will fall into the evil trends of chasing money and fame and indulging the flesh, and we will become like unbelievers, engaging in intrigue and behaving treacherously for the sake of fame and gain, living in the midst of sin yet not believing it to be sin. Especially when we find someone else’s life is better than ours, we would think harder about how to make more money. Still some others live a degenerate, depraved life of eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves in order to maintain their complicated interpersonal relationships, and they view attending meetings as a burden. Once a person is trapped in such a vortex, they become a victim of Satan. Not only will they get darker and darker in spirit, but their life will become more and more empty. Eventually, they will lose the opportunity to gain the truth and salvation for staying away from God, betraying God, and returning to the world.
Now, many Christians can’t see through Satan’s tricks, thinking that it’s not a big sin to follow the trends of the world, and that believing in God and pursuing the truth can’t produce results overnight. So, they often follow the flesh and have no sense of urgency in their pursuit of the truth. In fact, Satan is using the evil trends to corrupt people, turning them further and further away from God and finally devouring them completely. If we do not pursue the truth hard, we won’t be able to discern Satan’s tricks. This is like when Satan tempted Eve into sinning, instead of telling people that denying and betraying God will cause consequences, it says something nice to coax people and gives them a mistaken feeling that Satan says those things for their good, and in the end they do things that betray God. Nowadays, we are the same as Eve who was beguiled, not believing the words of God but viewing these material things in front of us as the most important. In order to satisfy our physical enjoyment, we don’t hesitate to devote all our energy and time into it. If this goes on like this, won’t we be the targets of Satan’s devouring too? However, if we follow the words of God, participate in church life normally, and understand more truths, we will be able to discern Satan’s tricks using the truth, and we won’t be fooled and afflicted by Satan.