Let us think hard about how to stir one another up to love and good deeds. Let's make sure we continue to meet together and encourage one another, even though some have stopped doing so. Let's redouble our efforts at this as the Day of the Lord draws near.--Hebrews 10:24-25 (paraphrased)
What is the purpose of the gathered church? Certainly, communal worship is a significant part. We join together to raise our voice in prayer and praise to our King. It is also a place where we commune together around the Lord's table, reminded of our bonds to one another and to Christ, established and maintained by the blood of Jesus.
The author of Hebrews shows us another purpose: to stir one another up. Gathered saints are community in action, a place where we learn love and other-centeredness. We are encouraged to give thought to how to provoke and challenge each another to love and serve one another more deeply. It seems to me that we wouldn't have to think too hard about how to love those who seemingly never fail us. (In truth, the only ones who will never fail us are Christ and those with whom we never get beneath the surface). So we have to wrestle with how to do this in true community. We have to consider how to love those who are at times unlovable. We have to think about how to serve, with other-centeredness, the most self-centered among us. In truth, our sin-nature is defined by self-centeredness, so this describes us all at times, yet because Christ is in us, we are capable of true love and service.
Yet absent community,we will not be able to plumb the depths of Christ's love reflected in relationship. God's plan for His people is not isolation nor abandonment, but true community, not made up of perfect people, but led by a perfect Christ.