Thursday, March 30, 2023

God of a Gathered People

You probably know someone who loves Jesus, but doesn't go to church. You've probably heard someone say that they don't need the church to be a Christian, that their relationship with God is their own and it works for them without the church. You've probably heard someone say they are "spiritual, but not religious" as a reason why they don't belong to a local body. 

You've probably heard that it's none of your business, anyway. As long as someone loves Jesus in their heart, who are you to judge? Who are you to insist that there's a better way? 

But did you know that our togetherness - our worshiping together - was God's plan from the very beginning? 

Yes, of course, He said plainly at creation that it was not good for man to be alone. And in the New Testament, we know we are admonished to "not neglect meeting together." These are kind of the two places we go when we're trying to make an apologetic for church attendance or membership. 

But it is even deeper than this. 

As Israel came out of Egypt and God was trying to instruct them on how to become a people, on how to live like a cohesive group of the blessed, He told them about the feast days that they ought to observe. He laid out plans for the holy days when they were supposed to worship. 

And at every single one of them, the first thing they had to do...was come together. 

God planned every single one of His holy days on a gathering at the altar, at the tent, at the Temple. He planned every single one so that the first thing His people would do when they thought about what a special, blessed, wonderful, holy day it was...was come together. He made a way for those who were ceremonially unclean to have a different time to come together because the holy things He was calling His people to were just not the same if you tried to do them in isolation in the camp of the unclean. 

God's holy things require community. 

Always have, always will. 

This is important for us who may be tempted to lean into the spiritual, but not religious crowd. For those of us who may hear them talking about how their faith "works" for them and how they still love Jesus and have a great relationship with Him. It sounds nice, but it's just not true. 

An essential part of worship is togetherness. And if you're not regularly coming together into the holy things with other persons, if you're not regularly being a part of a people of God, then you're missing something important.  

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