I’m Glad You are Here
Scripture shows us the importance of meeting together as God’s people: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25).
Without getting into the fine points of this passage, think of the overall teaching. God wants us meeting together. This is not just about a command to assemble. God’s will is for us to assemble, of course, but the Lord has reasons. God knows what will give us the greatest benefit. God knows we need each other, and He designed His body with the idea of being connected. God knows that we will be edified and strengthened if we will come together with the purpose of helping to stir each other up to love and good works. God knows that songs in the heart and on the lips will not only be a sacrifice of praise unto Him (Heb 13:15-16), but will also teach, admonish, and edify one another (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; cf. 1 Cor 14:36). We need this.
Have you ever been part of a worship or song service wherein the singing, in person, was uplifting and sounded good, but then you later listened to that same service recorded and thought, “Is this the same? Was it that slow? Did it really sound like that?” In person, it was edifying, but second-hand, recorded, it seemed like the wind was out of the sails and it’s just not the same? We should note that this is not the sound booth guy’s fault.
Perhaps there is something about recordings in general. Perhaps recorded events come out slower. Perhaps recordings are inferior in a number of ways from live events. I don’t know all the reasons. (Don’t get me started on listening to myself. I can’t take it. I don’t know how anyone else does.) No matter the reasons, recordings cannot capture all that happens in person as God’s people join in unity and praise together. While recordings and online resources are helpful and important in today’s high-tech world, there is nothing like being there in person, praising God together, and joining in with other voices … live, without cyber walls and filters.
Connect face to face. I know there are times when the recordings are all we have, and these can work to our benefit and edification in the absence of actually being there. They surely can help. People get sick. Work emergencies happen. Many are shut in and need edification. People travel and are away from their home family. That is life, and this is all understandable. But if you can, while you have the ability, be there. Show up in person. Come with a purpose. The encouragement you can provide in person is far greater than what a recording will ever give. Technology cannot do what face to face contact can do in praise and edification. While a recording can encourage, it cannot provide reciprocation. We need mutual encouragement.
I often think about what Thomas missed when Jesus first appeared to His disciples after the resurrection (John 20:24). I do not know why Thomas missed that first occasion. I do not assume that he purposefully missed being with the other disciples just because he stubbornly did not feel like being there. Perhaps he was sick. Perhaps something else was pressing and his missing was completely understandable. We do not know. Regardless of the reason, he missed, and his missing was noticed and significant. He missed the Lord on that occasion, and this was nothing small. He had some catching up to do.
Think again on Hebrews 10:24-25, where we are called upon to stir up one another to love and good works. When we are not present, not only do we miss out on being encouraged, but we also miss out on being encouragers, and this is important. Meeting with other saints is not just about “me.” It’s not just about what I can get out of it. It’s about what I can put into it so that not only will God be glorified, but others will be edified. Whoever is present and engaged can be both encouraged and the encouragers.
The digital age has given us many advantages that were unknown to our ancestors. The last few decades have brought amazing advances, and they speak to the creativity of human beings who are themselves created in God’s image. Yet, as with all advances, we must keep ourselves grounded in reality and humility. People have learned to bury their heads in their phones, tablets, and computers, and this aspect of technology has not been entirely positive. This can make us aloof, standing apart and living in a digital world that rarely interacts positively with others. This is not what God wants for His people. Learn to unplug from the tech and plug in to the family of God. Use the tech to glorify God, but do not use it as an excuse to drift away from God and His people.
I’m glad you are here. It really is good to see you.