What Makes Church, Church?

 Have you ever thought about what difference there is between worshipping God on your own by the lake and worshipping God with God’s people on a Saturday night or Sunday morning?  Hebrews 10 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (23-25)  Have you seen this truth before?  He tells us to not forsake gathering together.  That command is sandwiched between two slices of encouragement.  Do you see that?  He first tells us to think deeply (consider) about how to help others love more.  Then he tells us to encourage each other. 

There is something extremely valuable here that we miss.  Sometimes, when we are asked why we go to church we answer something like, “To get a blessing,” or, “To meet with God.”  I would suggest that we have missed the key part to worshipping together.  Receiving a blessing can come anytime.  We can meet with God anytime.  The difference, for Christians, is that life is not just about us anymore.  For the believer, the “me” part of the equation slips behind the “we” part of the equation.  In other words, the key part of church is the others we see on Sunday morning. 

What will this mean for us?  Let me go through the typical Sunday morning if we were to really embrace this teaching.  We get up.  Maybe we are ready for church, maybe not.  However, either as part of our morning routine or as part of traveling to church we prepare ourselves by thinking of the people we will see at church that Sunday.  We pray for them.  We prepare to speak to them (especially if we know they are struggling or if they make us struggle!).  When we arrive at church, we are looking for a person to give a special touch or word to.  As we sing, we are sensitive to those immediately around us.  Do they need help with their Bible or hymnal?  Do they need a friendly and encouraging smile?  Do they need a friend to stand beside?  We may not have the gift of encouragement or mercy, but we all can certainly reach out in prayer for those who appear to be hurting or struggling.  If we share prayer concerns during the service, we intentionally write down names for later prayer.  During the sermon, we listen attentively to the pastor, knowing that he too needs our encouragement.  After the service, we make a point of letting our speech be seasoned with encouragement, love, and peace.  Our whole time at church is about reaching around one another in love, grace, and hope.  Yes, we focus on God.  And yes, we focus on one another.  Why? Because it is there that we find the great ministry of the church.  As Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

 Something to think about,

Pastor John

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