On those days that you just don’t feel like rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning, and I’ve been there many times myself, let me assure you, it’s worth it! I’ll also confess gladly, that there has rarely, if ever, been a time where I regretted afterwards that I pushed through and came. This is not a push to guilt anyone into coming to church. Please understand! In the same way that God desires that we give and serve from a glad and joyful heart, I believe He desires that we come together with glad hearts. We may not start from a place of gladness, but hopefully, prayerfully and expectantly we’ll get there!! It does start, often, from an attitude of obedience. But obedience leads to joy most often. In our Western culture of over emphasis on only doing what makes us feel good at the time, we in the church often fall prey to that thinking. Thoughts like, “Oh, I just don’t feel like going today” or “I don’t really need to go” or “The series we are in right now doesn’t really appeal to me”, etc. all point to the self-centered approach we often take towards the regular gathering together of God’s people for prayer, worship, taking communion, experiencing someone’s baptism, encouragement and edification in the Word (both of others and us). So why is gathering together regularly so important?
First, Jesus modeled it. We see this in His own relationship within the Trinity: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. From eternity past, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwelt in perfect unity, harmony and fellowship. There was unity in oneness. There was unbroken fellowship and joy within the godhead. And as John Piper says in Desiring God, “the eternal happiness of the triune God spilled over in the work of creation and redemption”. Jesus also modeled this in His earthly life as He gathered for worship in the synagogue regularly (Matthew 4:23, 9:35). Jesus was with people, engaging people, listening to and conversing with people generally, but also at set times. It was His habit to gather regularly with people in the temple courts, the synagogues and in homes. Second to His love of being with His Father, was His being with us! Jesus came to be with us (Emmanuel, God with us!)
Second, the people of God modeled it. We see this clearly in the early church in the book of Acts (2:42-47). They lived together in community. They hung out together. They shared their stuff together. They worshipped together. They took meals together. They listened to the teaching of God’s Word together. They served together. They took communion together, and all of these things done regularly but together. They, like God, experienced great and deep abiding joy as they lived life together. There was an amazing joy of being together in worship and doing life together. They also suffered through the trials of life together.
Third, the Scriptures model and call us to this. Hebrews 10:24-25 calls us to come together regularly and to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the habit of some. Oh, the deep joy, peace, contentment and power we often miss when we refuse to gather together regularly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together says, “The physical presence of other believers is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. How else can we stir one another to love and good deeds unless we meet together? And when we meet, it should not be for glib conversation but for godly consecration, centered around the Word of God and prayer to God. And all the more as we see the Day of His return drawing nigh!”
So, brothers and sisters, I encourage you to continue to come together regularly! It is for God’s glory and your good. I highly recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s short but powerful book, Life Together.