Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Purpose Of Christians Gathering

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

COVID 19 has changed the ebb and flow of our society.  Things that we used to do, places where we used to go – that has all changed. We used to think it strange when women in other countries walked around with their faces covered up to their eyes and now it is a common sight. You can’t even enter some places of business without a masks on you face. Church doors were closed. Do you remember when you are a child and were taught to fold your hands and say “Here is the church and here is the steeple, open doors and see all of the people.”?  For a few months when the doors were opened, there was no body home at the church.  Because the Church had left the building. Now most are looking through the windows – streaming services over the internet.  It can become so much like another television program. Even Zoom meetings lack the relational connection that you have in physical meetings.

For many Christians, the highlight – perhaps the only day of the week that they figuratively light their spiritual lamp is on Sunday, when they gather.  God created us to be relational. We are wired to want to be around other people. For probably 99% of us, living in isolation has a dilatory effect on our spiritual stability.  We are told to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, lay down our lives for one another. That is not just about having an attitude but personal relationship.

Having “me:” time with the Lord is important. In fact, personal interaction with the Lord must be the starting point, foundation, of personal interaction with others.  We should not get the cart before the horse – where our spirituality is solely dependent upon being around other Christians. But it is critical to your spiritual health.  I remember hearing a story about Chuck Colson.  Chuck Colson, “Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man", Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal, for being named as one of the Watergate Seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. In 1974 he served seven months in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama, as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.” (Wikipedia) Chuck was born again in 1973 before he went to prison, and while in prison conceived the idea of a ministry which would be called Prison Fellowship which has become an international evangelical Christian ministry.

The story goes like this.  Chuck and another man were chatting in Chuck’s home.  The other man said “I don’t really need to be around other Christians – I am fine with it being just me and Jesus.” Chuck didn’t say anything, but walked to the fire place and took and ember out with the tongs and stared at it. Still saying nothing. After a few minutes of silence, the ember’s glow grew faint until it was gone. Then Chuck said, “That is what it is like when a Christian is removed from the fellowship of other Christians. The fire goes out.” He was not saying that we lose our salvation. He was saying that there is a synergy, a spiritual dynamic, created through the gathering of Christians.  One that you cannot duplicate or derive any other way. 

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

I have quoted verse 20  many times in support of the idea about fellowship and prayer. But actually the scripture in its context has to do with dealing with a sinning Christian.  As Christians, as temples of the Holy Spirit, we take the Spirit wherever we go – by ourselves or with others.  Whether there is a spiritual dynamic in being with other Christians depends upon the condition of our hearts.  I can put a heater in a cold room, but if the heater has no flame, the room will remain cold – and so will the heater.

My point, there is more to it than merely coming together. Our hearts must be right before God.  The assembling of Christians can be like going to a filling station – where cars that are low on fuel can be refueled.  It can also be like a car repair shop where cars that are in disrepair and be repaired. I am not advocating that you ignore the dangers of assembly when COVID is back on the rise. I am reminding you of the importance of Christian fellowship – something that God intended at the point of creation.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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