“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Indeed, they do!
Over the past year, the world has experienced life very differently from normal, not the least Christians who have had to adapt to a whole new experience of living out their faith communally. This provisional ‘normal’ is of particular interest because, whilst there’s a personal aspect of the Christian life, there’s also another aspect that is communal – two complementary parts that aid spiritual growth and maturity. One may not be traded for the other, or altogether neglected.
No solo flyers
On one hand, Christians are called to tend the fire on their individual altars, actively seeing to their regular spiritual disciplines. On the other hand, we are warned against giving up meeting together.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 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.” Hebrews 10:24 & 25
To be clear, there are many ways we could meet, each gathering holding out opportunities to interact and encourage one another, but corporate worship holds a unique place and purpose.
In honour of the Lord’s Day and in anticipation of the ultimate Sabbath rest, a day – Sunday for most Christians – is set aside universally for weekly communal worship. Together, we approach the throne of grace, to receive God’s word and engage in prayer, worship, confess and repent of personal and collective sins, amongst other activities that take place during our time of gathered worship.
The Psalmist likens the appeal of God’s people dwelling together in unity to precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, and to the dew of Hermon falling on Mount Zion. He goes on to conclude that on such a gathering does the LORD bestow his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133)
Knowing that this sacred communal act of worship echoes around the world reassures us that even when our numbers look small and we feel insignificant, we’re participating in something bigger than us, and of much significance in the grand scheme of things.
In touch with reality
We need not look far at all before we realise that our churches are a mixed bag of impostors (who are at best, presumptuous of their salvation) and genuinely saved people (who are at different stages of their walk with God). Along with such diverse community comes the inevitable baggage of offences and misgivings.
The choice before us is a view of the church from a wholly human perspective, or from the vantage point of the head of the church, who designed that through his body, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.
So, while we’re not out of touch with reality, we wade through the relational mess, convinced that by reconciling us to himself, God reconciled us to brothers and sisters whom we owe a duty of love and service.
Rehearsal for future reality
From the blessing of discipleship to deeper and more meaningful relationships that offer support and accountability, to ample opportunities that fulfil the numerous ‘one-another’ commands of the Bible, the blessings (spiritual and practical) of our corporate worship far outweigh the misgivings of a flawed body. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer (or more accurately, the family prayer, taught by our Lord) hints at a communal context, with its use of plural terms such as ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’ in contrast to singular expressions like ‘me’, ‘my’ or ‘I’.
So, get plugged in (again). Resist the allure of a no mess, no stress virtual church; take each other seriously enough to show up. And in showing up, against the tide of a prevalent consumeristic, individualistic culture, be ready to give as well as to receive.
Ours is a Father who plays for keeps, and since none of his own will slip out of his hands, we might as well get on with the business of doing life together now, ahead of when we get to do so more gloriously and perfectly.
Sike Osinuga is a Christian woman learning the ropes of being a godly wife and mother, one wobbly step at a time. An erstwhile Telecoms Engineer, she enjoys reading good books and writing. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known. She blogs at http://www.thrivebytheword.com”