Readings: Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 2:10; John 4:24
My bride and I honeymooned in Hawaii, just a week ago. We decided to spend our first morning there visiting a church on our first Sunday as a married couple. We were so blessed and wholly grateful to be there, worshiping in such a beautiful place. At the end of the service, we met another couple who, to our surprise, were also on their honeymoon.
What compelled these two couples to celebrate their new lives together by setting aside time for church that could have been spent on the beach or hiking to a waterfall? The answer is simple. There is nothing more beautiful than the gathering of God’s people. We didn’t miss out on anything. In fact, we were blessed with new friends and fellowship. On our first Sunday back, having worshipped in beautiful Hawaii, I was overwhelmed by the joy of being home with our church family.
For a large portion of my own life as a young adult, I didn’t attend church—even as a believer. I bought into the psuedo-axiomatic mantra of our generation: You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. Salvifically, that’s true; one does not need a church to be saved. Why, then, do we gather together? Let me offer an analogy. One does not need to be in a band to be a musician, but as any musician will tell you, you’ll never really progress on your own. You need other musicians to challenge you and grow you. Likewise, Christians need other Christians to grow. And just as being a musician is really no fun without other musicians to play with, being a Christian without other Christians is simply no fun.
There is an abundance of blessings that come with Christian fellowship. Christianity is unlike other religions in this aspect. Though the Bible encourages quiet prayer and meditation on the Word of God, we are not in a religion of isolation. We do not transcend by being alone; rather, we are fundamentally completed by functioning as the corporate Body of Christ. Neither do we lose our individuality amidst ritual. Our fellow Christians—and the Holy Spirit—meet us where we are and in who we are, encouraging us to trust and pursue God and his purpose for us. That is what it means to be in the body of Christ. We don’t have to be in a church to be saved, but being saved places us in the church.
My wife and I worshipped on the side of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, gazing out at the sea. But when Christ was asked where we ought to worship, in Jerusalem or on the mountain, He said in part, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The church is not a building, but a building is where we meet. So wherever that is for you this weekend, be there!