When we choose (*) to absent ourselves from the gathering of the saints we may well be the victim of one or more of Satan’s lies.
The first lie is that I don’t need ‘it’. By ‘it’ I mean that time of worship, that time of instruction, that time of fellowship, or that time of prayer. When placed on the scales of whatever else it is that I want or prefer at that time I am believing the lie that the means of grace matter little to me. I don’t get much out of prayer meetings, I don’t benefit from Sunday School, I don’t like it when that particular preacher preaches. I certainly don’t need it.
The second lie is that I don’t need ‘them’. That is the saints. I could be with them. I could fellowship with them, enjoy them, be strengthened by them. When I choose to consistently absent myself when they are together, I am believing the devil’s lie that I am sufficient within myself.
The third lie that we can easily believe is that they don’t need ‘me’. My presence or absence makes no difference. Whether I am beside that brother or sister, whether my pastor sees me and interacts with me, whether or not my voice is joined in praises or my heart is lifted up with my brethren in prayer is a matter of indifference. It is true that the church will get by, but there is a great difference between full strength and partial strength. There is a difference between a family when all are present, a body without parts missing, a building with all the walls or stones in place.
The gathering of the saints matters. May we not carelessly neglect it.
*I am not referring to what we generally call ‘providential hindrance’ or necessary absence–I am referring to habitually absenting ourselves from the means of grace.