Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
When I read this verse I have two thoughts. One, during Paul’s day, some were in the habit of meeting together. Two, during Paul’s day, some abandoned the habit of meeting together.
From my perspective I suspect both interpretations are correct. Regardless of circumstances, some made sure they met, read God’s word, prayed, praised our Lord, and shared in one another’s fellowship. Others once did, but stopped.
With COVID, some worship in person, others worship remotely. Both are valid forms of gathering and each offers advantages. Remote worship allows for flexibility with regards to time and dress. There may be connection challenges, streaming and buffering issues, but at least we hear a sermon and songs are sung. In person worship offers different challenges, the main one being, we could die from simply showing up.
In Psalm 27 David says, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this alone I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Notice David does not say, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this alone I seek: that I might stream my church’s sermon, listen to the choir’s pre-recorded performance, and worship with a few family members at home.”
Why? Because David knows that left on our own, we are tempted to stop reading God’s word, listening to God’s word, speaking God’s word to ourselves, and sharing our prayers with others. But when we come into the Body of Christ, we are surrounded by people who are going through all sorts of things themselves. When we gather together, there is a strength that flows into us. There is an encouragement that comes from being in physical worship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
In public worship, there are times when something is read, sung, or said, and you know without a doubt it is the Lord speaking to you. You can’t explain it, but you feel his presence. In that moment God is somehow more real. It’s as though you are the only one in the sanctuary and the Lord is speaking to you.
I can’t prove this, I can only speculate based on what scripture says, but I’m convinced there are certain blessings we can only receive while in the presence of God with fellow believers. I have received such blessings at Christian writers conferences. Perhaps you have experienced something similar.
This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty. If you cannot attend worship in person, if your church has not opened its doors, if remote worship is the only safe way for you to gather together, encourage and encouraged, God understands.
But know this: We are created in the image of God. We are made for fellowship. We are body, spirit, and soul. And when we gather together in person we bring our full selves into God’s presence.
One final thought regarding in person worship. If your state requires masks for indoor gatherings, please wear yours. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.” Romans 13:1-7.
Satan has and will continue to persecute the Body of Christ. One way he does this is through governments who seek to shut down in person worship and a media that loves to point out the flaws of Christians.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18. This includes wearing a mask indoors.
Be a good neighbor to fellow brothers and sisters. Be an example to all mankind. And do not neglect gathering together. The Body of Christ needs you.
Speaking of, would you consider joining me February 26 – 28, 2021, at the Billy Graham Training Center? Over the course of three days we will encourage and equip you to write and speak God’s words, worship him, and love on fellow believers. Asheville Christian Writers Conference is both an in-person and virtual Christian writer and speaker conference. If you wish to attend in person and worship with us, we would love to see you! If you wish to attend remotely, that’s fine, too. Hope to see you on God’s hill in February!