Most Christians make it a regular practice to attend a worship service at least once a week. I remember growing up that my family was at church every time the doors opened. On Sunday morning, we attended Sunday School at 9:45 am, followed by the morning worship service at 11:00 am. Sunday evenings, there were youth gatherings at 5:45 pm, followed by the evening worship service at 7:00 pm. Tuesday was Boys Brigade at 7:00 pm. Wednesday was Prayer Meeting at 7:00 pm. Thursday was Choir practice at 7:00 pm. My parents always made sure that we attended any service we could.
Many people go to church because it was the way their parents raised them. I am thankful for my parents and how they raised me, but that cannot be the only reason I go to church each week. Have you ever stopped to think about why you go to church each week? In addition to what their parents taught them, some people will say it is what God expects, citing Hebrews 10:25, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.”
Christians gathering together is the right thing to do. However, I do not believe God wants us to do it just because it is the right thing to do. I believe God wants us to gather together for the right reasons. In Romans 10:1-3, Paul said that the Israelites were zealous toward God, but their zeal was not based on knowledge. They were trying to please God by completing a checklist on what they did for Him. The church at Laodicea did things for God, but Jesus described them as “lukewarm,” neither hot nor cold toward God. Because of their attitude, He wanted to spit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).
So then, what are the right reasons we gather together? First of all, we gather together because we love God, and He is worthy of our worship. As we come together to worship God, we should prepare our hearts to worship Him. Our focus should be on Him, and we should come with thankful hearts for His sacrifice on our behalf, His provision for our lives, His protection over our lives, and His constant presence in our lives.
We also come together to worship God so that we can edify one another. The word edification comes from the root word edifice, meaning building or structure. We come together to build up one another and to encourage one another in the faith. Paul told us in Ephesians 4:11-13, “And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The idea is that when Christians gather together, we build each other up and encourage each other in the faith, we become more mature in the Lord, and the church body becomes a strong witness for the Lord.
Another reason we gather together is that Christ is there with us. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Think of that; Jesus is right there in our midst when we gather together to worship Him. When we sing, He is right there, listening to our songs of praise. When we read His Word, He is right there listening to us. When we pray, He looks at our hearts and hears our words. When we truly worship Him, He is right there with us.
Wow! When we gather together in true worship, Jesus is right there in our midst. That should cause us to make sure our heart attitude is right when we gather together to worship, and that our focus is on Jesus, and Him alone. We might be able to fool people, but not God. He wants us to worship Him in truth.
We need to make sure that when we gather together each week that we have one focus – Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Romans 11:36)!