I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1)
I suppose I inherited it from my mother—she loved to walk. Now I’m not sure I love to walk, but I do need to walk, as I’m dealing with heart disease. So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I go to the gym. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, I walk.
But today, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and walked down to the Whole Foods and picked up some healthy snacks: apples, nuts, etc. So here I am, walking back to work, with my bag of healthy goodies, and walking in the opposite direction I approach a young man, and begin to say, “Good morning”, but then I notice he has his earbuds in and he won’t hear me, and he doesn’t look up.
And therein lies the danger of social media, smart phones, et al. We isolate ourselves from personal touch. We lose even the common courtesy of being able say “Good morning” to someone. Who knows, perhaps you’re having a bad day, and if someone happens to look at you and smile and says good morning, wouldn’t that help at least a little bit? Maybe even more than you can imagine.
This verse from Psalm 122 reminds us of the necessity of community. Not only should worship be done together, but going to worship, and leaving worship, whenever possible, should be done together. Why?
Well, the conversation is going to be a blessing and encourage you. You will be after all, talking about Jesus, what He’s done for you, how He’s answered prayer, or how you need prayer. How you’re feeling lost, or how He’s been guiding you. There’s a whole myriad of topics and thoughts and hopes and needs that could be expressed in your coming and going to and from church. Or, maybe you’ll talk about the sermon, or the worship pastor (hopefully mostly good).
As far as being in worship, it’s all about Him. Your fixing your eyes on Jesus, and worshiping Him. And you’re doing it with people you love. Your adding your voice to a host of others, and lifting your praise to the Most High. Perhaps there is prayer time, and you hear about those who are going through some really tough times, or the latest request from one of the missionaries, or maybe the church is starting a new ministry, or a building program. You as a community, you as a congregation, are lifting up these needs… Together. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
And so for a time, you’ve got yourself out of yourself, you’ve got your eyes off of yourself, and your focus has been on the Lord, and your concerns have shifted from self to others. The apostle Paul talks about that:
Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. (Romans 12:10-11)
Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Now unfortunately, I need to make a disclaimer. Not all churches are kind churches. Not all churches are friendly churches. There are some who are judgmental, critical, legalistic, and cold. Now in regards to the latter two in that list, some could make a case that they are being biblical. But when grace and love are lacking, how long can you stand upon a “good doctrine” platform? But I like to think that most churches that love Jesus, love people; and I hope you can find one. I’m fortunate, in that I attend two churches that love Jesus and love people in my hometown. So I know they’re out there. So don’t get discouraged. Keep looking.
But for now, take out your earbuds, and look for opportunities to smile and say hello. Let the love of Jesus shine through you. And get off that little screen—or big-screen— and go to church, with friends, and share what’s going on. And when you’re in church enjoy the fellowship, embrace the community, as you worship the One True Living God
Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:24-25)