We come together on the first day of each week. Why? What is the motive for us to get out of our warm beds, drive from our comfy homes and gather with other believers? There are a variety of reasons that people identify, but which is the biblical one? And how do we go about choosing where to go and what to do?
I like the music. The preacher holds my attention. It’s where my family took me, and I grew up in this church. My friends come here. It’s convenient. They teach what I believe. The reasons go on and on, but the purpose of corporate worship must come out of the word of God and not my preferences.
Questions about worship are nothing new. The Samaritan woman at the well asked Jesus about it (John 4). Here or there? Your people say one thing, and mine say another. Who is right? Jesus dove right into the essence of her problem. She was concerned about location, and He took her to a time when geography would be irrelevant. She did not know the object. That is a problem.
Do we know who we worship? We focus on worshipping in spirit and truth which is totally appropriate, but He took her mind to another question. Ours must go there as well. We have an accurate way to assess and answer that question. How do we handle His word (1 John 2:3)? Do we obey His commands? We cannot claim to know Him if we do not.
Our assembly has a vertical component in recognizing and honoring the great God of heaven. We come together to remember the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. It motivated the first century Christians (Acts 20:7), and it should serve the same purpose for us. Commemorating the body and blood of Jesus, His resurrection, ascension and return are central as we reflect on the covenant and our loyalty to it. Our week begins by focusing our thoughts on God the Son and salvation, on remembering.
There is also the horizontal component to our gathering. The world takes a harsh toll on all of us each week. Discouragement threatens. Encouragement is needed. The responsibility to nudge one another along the journey belongs to each of us on a weekly basis (Hebrews 10:23-25, if not on a daily basis-Hebrews 3:13!) God is faithful to us, and we should be faithful to one another. Someone’s spirits are probably sagging at this moment and an encouraging word would mean a lot. Yours might be just the one that will keep them from giving up. Both the vertical and horizontal dimensions make for a biblical assembly. What does God want? For His Son to be remembered and honored as we honor Him, and for us to encourage one another to love and good deeds. Maybe, that’s exactly what He wants for Christmas.