We left the building when they said we could not gather, but so many of us have not gone back.
Truth be told - many God-fearing, God-loving people had already stopped going to church long before Covid. Somewhere along the line, we just found it to be irrelevant or at the very least, unnecessary for life.
However, I gotta say I believe we are missing something so powerful in our lives when we forego gathering together. You see, there are certain things that can only be realized by participating in a community of believers who come together for the purpose of worshipping God.
From my youth, I was trained that Christians go to church. That is what we do. Period. I understood the reasons to be quite simple. First, we are to ‘honor the Sabbath, and keep it holy,’1 which is one of the Ten Commandments. And second, we are to ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…’2 Put another way “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So, besides lifting our worship to God, joining together with other believers is meant for our encouragement. [aint no one gonna turn away encouragement, is there?]. In fact, the preceding verse shows that meeting together in the house of God affords us the opportunity to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”3
Christianity is not meant to be either a solo sport or a spectator sport. Let’s go back, way back, to the early church, which met in homes in Jerusalem. (ah, so I am not talking about ‘church’ as it pertains to a building) Why did they come together? First, they had experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit when they had been together, waiting in obedience, as Jesus had told them to do. Acts chapter two records that day that changed Christianity forever, and verse 42 highlights the four reasons the believers came together. Followers of Jesus Christ devoted themselves to: the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Four things: teaching, being together, eating together (including taking Communion) and praying.
In Paul’s writing to the Philippians, he spurs them on to the unity which can only be had in Jesus Christ . . .
He writes: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” Philippians 2.1
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Of course there is! Is there any comfort from his love? Why, there is no greater comfort than the love of God! Is there any fellowship together in the Spirit? Why yes, the world can only offer counterfeit experiences; there is nothing like the people of God being together to share the love of God with one another. It is the Holy Spirit within individual believers that connects the hearts and minds of believers, one with another, and then, ushers in the shared experience of the presence of God, in such a way, that at times, his presence is so real, the feeling so palpable, it cannot be denied. Oh yes, there is fellowship together in the Spirit. Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Oh, I pray so. If not, what have you allowed to harden them?
All four of these things should be present and characteristic of the body of believers: encouragement, comfort, fellowship, and compassion, for these issue forth from the heart of our loving Father, made possible through the love of Jesus Christ, with the connectivity of the Holy Spirit. These are the shared qualities of faith that we enjoy in a community of believers, and they are indispensable to living as Christians in the world.
Are you discouraged in your faith, or has your ardor waned? Perhaps you have cut yourself off from community . . . or have never experienced it. Does the love of Christ seem more present in someone else’s life than your own? Friend, you need to connect with the people of God! Do you seem to be holding lone Christian beliefs and values in your heart and mind? You will not remain vital without the spark that is present in the people of God. ‘Finding yourself a little more cynical, a little less compassionate toward others’ needs? Neither ought be. You were not meant to be an island, Man. Get in relationship with other Christians—do life together with them.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Indeed, let’s spur one another on toward love and good deeds! Some may think Church is so yesterday, but nothing could be further from the truth. Being part of a local church or a local gathering of believers is critical to our vitality and well being as devoted followers of Jesus.
I just gotta say Take Me Back to Church! killer song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eTOcrWu8mQ
1 Exodus 20.8; Deuteronomy 5.12 2 Hebrews 10.25 3 Hebrews 10.24