Antagonism toward church of all kinds seems to grow all the time. It is common to hear those who have grown up going to church and participating in the worship and activities of the church as they grow up, decide that it is no longer for them and to wonder out loud why their parents or friends continue to go. Some question the teaching, others the sincerity of the people, some the work that is being done or the failure to do the work they think they should be doing. Many seem to just wonder what the whole reason is behind getting your family ready on Sunday to get to church services? Is it to be with friends, to study in classes, to make new bonds, to worship God or hear the preaching of his word. The truth is there are lots of people that believe each of these and in their minds that is the one reason they are there. If their friends move away, they are no longer there. It was the friends who were the glue that kept them involved in the work.
Why can’t we just get together as a family and have our own worship time and ignore this whole thing of an assembly or congregation of people? While there are times and places where that is often the best people can do since there aren’t other Christians around them, meeting together and worshiping God together. But under normal circumstances, it is God’s plan that the church meets together as a body of believers to worship Him. At the very beginning of the church in Acts 2, right after telling the story of Peter preaching the gospel to the people and 3,000 of them making a commitment to Christ that led them to be baptized to have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Luke adds this powerful verse “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayer.” The result of that action was the Lord was adding to their numbers every day.
Notice God’s explanation of the why of coming together in this first statement about their gathering. It was to grow in their understanding of the teaching that was coming from these apostles as ones sent from God. It was that they might break bread or commune together in partaking of the Lord’s Supper in memory of Jesus on the cross. It was in order to fellowship with each other that involved treating each other as family, sharing with each other and giving of what they were able to the Lord. Then they were to spend time in prayer together as the church for the benefit of all and to turn their attention toward God. These kinds of gatherings led to joy in getting to know each other and helping each other deal with needs in life, but it meant their growing toward God all the time.
In I Corinthians 11 when Paul discussed the church coming together in one place it was to break bread in communion and he reminded them it was what he had learned from Jesus about taking bread to remind them of Jesus, dying on the cross for us and drinking the fruit of the vine to remind of the blood he poured out on our behalf. They were to think of one another and do things that would help each other share that communion with the Lord.
In I Corinthians 14 when Paul spoke of the church gathering in one place for worship he taught them many things about doing the things that would build up one another in the body of Christ. He warned that some came just to show off what they could do and that wasn’t the purpose. Everything was to be done to the building up of the body of believers.
Probably the best known verses in the Bible about churches meeting together for worship to God is found in Hebrews 10:24-25. After a long series of “Let us” passages in which the writer pleads with them as Christians to get involved and help each other grow in their faith and commitment to God he comes to these words” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” One reason we gather as a church is to spur one another one to love and good works. You may say, I can spur myself and family along at home, yes but what about all the others that need your encouragement that are being left without that encouragement. Sometimes we can focus so much on ourselves that we forget God put us here on a mission and life isn’t just about us.
Finally, we must always remember the church gathers as the family of God to worship God, praise the Lord for all he has done for us and ask for His guidance and blessings in our life. Jesus said, the true worshiper worships the Father in Spirit and in truth and that the Father is always seeking for such to worship him.
You may think of a thousand reasons to stay at home and not gather with God’s people in church on Sunday, but there is no reason that outweighs the reasons God gives us to be there and be both blessed and a blessing to others as we worship God together.