Years ago, I read about a man in his 80s who was mostly deaf, but he was in church every Sunday unless he was ill. Someone asked him why he was so faithful in attending when he could hardly hear anything that was taking place. His answer was – “I want the devil to know whose side I am on.”
Since the church was born at Pentecost, with the outpouring of the gathering by the Holy Spirit, the devil (Satan) has been trying to destroy it. He has used persecution, deception, disagreements, false teachers, and false teaching. He has used immorality, corruption, desertion, humanism, and many other vices to compromise the witness of the church.
I believe that his latest strategy to destroy the Lord’s church has been the pandemic and government intrusion telling us when or when not to meet, how to worship, etc. Many churches closed during this time and will never reopen.
Let me, at this point, share a wonderful passage of scripture. In Hebrews 10:23-25 we read “Let us hold tightly to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And, let us not neglect meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”
During the pandemic, we began live streaming our service. It was a way to reach out to people and lead them in worship and teaching, and let them know we were still alive and looking forward to being back together. Do you know what is missing …that is absolutely essential to one’s spiritual health? Fellowship and encouraging one another. Also missing were the members ministering to one another, which is mandated in the verses I mentioned as well as in 1 Corinthians 12, and other passages that deal with spiritual gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, the Apostle Paul wrote “A spiritual gift is given to each of us, so we can help each other.” The tragedy of not meeting together is that the other members of the body do not receive the benefit of your gift and you do not receive the benefit of the giftedness of the other members of Christ’s church. How can we motivate (encourage) one another or be motivated if we do not gather together?
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the analogy of the human body and how it functions to help us understand how Christ’s church is to function. We read in verse 14 “Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.” Then in verse 18, he wrote “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where He wants it.”
Beginning with verse 22, he really brings it home — “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as least honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So, we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So, God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
The human body has many different parts, all designed by the Creator to support the other members, and for the whole body to experience health and a sense of wellness.
The same is true of Christ’s church. Each of us has been placed by the Holy Spirit in God’s family for the express purpose that we would experience spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being as we gather together and serve Him and each other. At least fifty times in the New Testament, we come across a wonderful phrase — “one another.” It is another way the Holy Spirit has gifted each of us so that Christ’s church can experience BODY LIFE. This happens when God’s redeemed people ‘gather together.’
Take your concordance and look up all the ‘one another’s phrases. Make a list of them. These are not suggestions. We are mandated to minister to each other in these many ways — pray for one another, forgive one another, serve one another, build each other up, love one another, and the list goes on and on. All of this happens when we gather together.
I love Sundays because it is like having a weekly family reunion. I get to rub shoulders with my brothers and sisters in Christ. You bless me and my desire is to bless you, as well.
In the passages I have referred to, several things are obvious:
1. We are not all the same.
2. Each of us is loved and gifted for the benefit of all others.
3. Each of us is essential to the health and well-being of all the other members of Christ’s church.
4. When the church functions with Christ revered, as the head, and the Holy Spirit empowering each of us to serve as gifted, God is glorified.
5. Others will be drawn to want to know Christ and be a part of His wonderful family.
The church is not the building we meet in. The church is the redeemed people who meet in that building to worship the Lord, encourage each other, and be taught God’s Word; and, then we leave to witness to a world plunged in an ever-increasing darkness. I urge you to gather faithfully to experience the presence of God, the love of Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and the refreshing from the other members of Christ’s church.
God bless you,