Have you heard the statement before, “He or she is a faithful member of the church” or “I haven’t seen them in a long time; I hope they are attending a faithful congregation somewhere”? Sometimes people may make these comments concerning a brother or sister in Christ. Concern for our brothers and sisters is commendable.
Look at the term “faithful Christian” from two views: First, there is the understanding that we meet on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, NKJV). How true; our early brethren came together according to this scripture. This is only one example in the New Testament of Christians assembling on the first day of the week. Some brethren have the idea that we are obligated to assemble only on this day. Is this first day gathering the only time the scriptures give for us to come together so are we obligated to be there? Does being faithful simply mean attending the assemblies on the first day of the week?
Lets look at the definition of the word obligated and see if it meets the meaning of the word faithful. Webster’s collegiate dictionary defines “obligation” as “the action of obligating oneself to a course of action; a formal contract; a promise or demands of conscience or custom.”
The New Testament lists the word faithful in approximately 48 places. That many times should indicate importance and it certainly does. The Greek word for faithful indicates action, a verbal adjective signifying belief, trusting and revealing.
Consider the action of Thomas in John 20:25-27. He said, “I will not believe until I put my finger and hand in the nail prints in his hands and into his side.” Thomas later believed and acted on his faith. Was Thomas obligated to act? No. He responded through love and faith.
Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God…” The early brethren lived this teaching by coming together from house to house daily, not only on the first day of the week (Acts 2:46). They benefited from being edified and growing together praising God. Were they obligated? Of course not! Were they under contract? No. They acted on their faith. They came together for the benefit of study, prayer, and praising God whenever they had the opportunity.
These brethren came together when they could, desiring to feed on the spiritual food provided by the church. They weren’t obligated to attend. They wanted to learn more about the gospel and the benefits of coming together with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They acted on their faith. James 2:18 says, “Show me your faith without acting on it and I will show you my faith by acting on it.”
We have a choice: Read and apply God’s word to our everyday life as a priority or just show up to our Sunday assemblies. One is being faithful. The other is just making a show of it.
May we strive to be as those brethren addressed in Ephesians 1:1—“The faithful in Christ Jesus.”