If God’s presence is everywhere, is there something special about the gathered body Sunday morning? If we can truly worship God as new covenant people wherever we are, why do we emphasize worshipping together? Given the plethora of great online sermons and YouTube videos of worship songs, why even go to church on Sunday? The professional videos of world-renown bands are of much higher musical quality than what we do Sunday, and let’s face it, there’s a reason some of those preachers have 1 million+ views (some good, some bad)! So why even show up? Why not be a Bedside Baptist every Sunday and avoid that awkward greeting time, the snotty nursery, and the mad lunch rush at 12:15? Here are a few reasons for you to consider why corporate gatherings are so important and necessary for the life of the individual believer.
We all are being formed into the image of Christ and reflect him in a unique way. Everyone brings something different, and all of those diverse gifts bring glory to Christ and put his own beauty and multi-faceted nature on display. It’s “Christ in me meets Christ in you” every Sunday, and it’s a great thing to participate in. Take a moment and think about all the different people you interact with. Instead of comparing yourself, judging them, or thinking about what you’d like to change, consider how you get a clearer picture of Jesus from them as a unique mirror of his glory. Remember 1 Corinthians 12:6-7, “there are different activities, but the same God produces each gift in each person. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.”
Second, we encounter God differently as a group of Spirit-indwelt people than we would alone. Mike Cosper says “the gathering is unique not as an encounter with God; it’s unique as an encounter with God intensified among the people of God, filled with the Spirit of God, spurring one another along in the mission of God. It’s communal, not individualistic.” Although God’s presence is everywhere, our awareness of his presence can be intensified as we gather as a body in unified worship of him.
Finally, we are called to unity again and again in the Scriptures. How are we to live out these (often difficult) commands to unity through dying to self, giving up our specific preferences, and sacrificially loving others if we’re not getting together to practice it? Every time we sing our not-so-favorite song together, pray with that person who gets under our skin in our care group, or take the Lord’s Supper as a diverse body, we are living out the radical call to unity that is rooted in Jesus’ sacrificial love for us.
So, let’s look forward to getting to know Jesus a bit more each week by getting to know him through his word and as we interact with his body here on earth. Christ-in-you, introduce yourself to Christ-in-someone else. Be blessed by the resurrection work of God going on in the people around you as we are formed more into the image of Jesus!