Why I Still Gather When It’s Not About The Meeting
If you read yesterday’s post, squinted real hard, and didn’t ask too many questions, you probably walked away with the idea that I don’t gather regularly with a group of believers. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. But if it’s not about the meeting, why do we meet?
Some people in the movement assume that church can whimsically happen. And there is no doubt that there is a measure of serendipity when you meet another believer who feels like a long lost brother or sister. God does meet us in these moments.
But in my experience, there is something powerful that comes from having a small group of people who know me well enough to encourage me and hold me accountable. Encouragement and accountability are two elements of the Christian life that don’t happen on a whim. They are the result of sustained, long term relationships that are intentionally built.
The writer of Hebrews says it this way:
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Notice a couple of things here: First, we are supposed to think about ways to motivate others to good works. When was the last time you thought about a way to motivate someone you had never met to acts of love and good works? Obviously the writer is talking to people who knew one another.
The writer also calls us to “not neglect our meeting together.” There is a strong degree of intentionality here. We’re not being encouraged to randomly meet with others. We’re called to continue to meeting intentionally so we can encourage each other. The context of the need to meet together is that “the day of his return is drawing near” and, brothers and sisters, the need to gather together and encourage each other keeps compounding as the day of Jesus’ return draws closer.
Paul calls us to a very similar routine. He describes meetings in 1 Corinthians as ones that they can plan to eat beforehand if they are desperately hungry (1 Corinthains 11:22), have a true communion element to them (1 Corinthians 11:26), and are spaces and places for the gifts in the body to build up the rest of the body (1 Corinthians 14:26). None of these things happen outside of some degree of intentionality, especially with regards to the place and time of a meeting.
So brothers and sisters, we gather because we believe Jesus has gifted others in our spiritual family with other perspectives of Jesus that we don’t have. We believe these perspectives and giftings that we don’t have are essential for being built up into the image of Christ and to be strong in the face of persecution and temptation. In short, it’s by gathering with believers on purpose that we are strengthened in our walks with the Lord the way He designed.
Does this mean that you can contain the life of God in a meeting? No. But it means if we forsake gathering together intentionally with other believers, we are abandoning a main method God has given us to grow up in His image.
We become stronger when the body builds the body up. It’s the way God’s designed it. So we continue to meet.