What we gain every time we meet
Sometimes we approach our service to God with questions like, “Do I have to?” This tends to take an approach that leads to the feeling of forced service or drudgery. Instead, what if we focused on the positive benefits that we gain when we meet together? To that end, I’d like to remind us of what we are doing when we come together as a church. Another reason for this reminder is that it is all too easy for us to get wrapped up in the entanglements of the world, even though they might be matters that are not in themselves sinful. Even so, they take time and energy, and sometimes God and His people get pushed to the back seat of busy lives. We’ve all struggled with this. We don’t usually do this purposefully, but gradually over time we allow more and more of the activities of the busy world take time and energy from us and we lose out on the ability to make the most of opportunities as we face evil days (Eph. 5:15-17).
“Opportunities” is the operative term. Meeting together is indeed a commitment of time and energy, but these are also great opportunities to learn, grow, and come away with a renewed sense of zeal and purpose. We find the time to do what we value and love, so let’s be reminded of the value of coming together as a congregation dedicated to serving the Lord.
Every time we meet, we gain opportunities:
1. To Praise God in Unity with Others. We have been redeemed to the praise and glory of God (see Eph. 1:3-14). We want to be with other redeemed people so that we can praise and glorify Him together. After making the point that we need to redeem the time because the days are evil, Paul continued, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:18-20). By doing this together, we show unity and encourage each other.
2. To Receive Strong Biblical Teaching. The word of God will be read and taught, whether in classes or general assemblies. Even in our singings, we are teaching biblical concepts and principles. But make no mistake: we are committed here to present the strongest biblical messages we can. We are committed to Scripture as God’s word, and we will hold this standard out for all to hear and follow. As Paul told Timothy, so we will do: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). You will, therefore, have opportunities to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:18).
3. To Have Fellowship with other Christians. Do not underestimate the power and importance of having fellowship in person with brothers and sisters in Christ. We are here to share jointly in the spiritual blessings of Christ. When we meet, we will see examples of faith and love. We will see godly people showing us what it means to be faithful. We will see Christians loving one another. We want to develop that family bond, and we need each other present to do so. By this, we will have the opportunity to lift up and encourage others who might be weak or struggling (Heb. 12:12). We will stimulate one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:23-25). We need this time of fellowship together.
4. To Recommit ourselves to the Lord. Of course we can do this anytime, but when we come together we are especially reminded of how important it is to be dedicated and committed to the Lord every day. By meeting with the brethren every opportunity we have, we will be showing our commitment and will be reminded of the need to cast off the old man of sin to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). We ought to leave every meeting with a renewed commitment to serve our great God daily.
We realize that there are issues that can prevent us from attending (e.g., sickness), and some situations are difficult. Nevertheless, we need to see the value of what we gain when we are present, and what we miss when we are absent, whatever the reason. We need to develop a longing and love for the assemblies. Think, also, of the impact this love and commitment will have on our children and future generations. And may I make a special appeal for our Sunday evening assemblies? We have even more opportunities then to grow, and every time we have is valuable. If you’ve not been in the habit of coming every time the doors are open for classes and assemblies, please reconsider and think of what you are missing and what you will gain, and how you will help so many others. Let’s cherish our times together.