Although, we close out an incredibly stressful and unique year, and enter into a hopeful new one, I fear the great pandemic has followed us through. I am not referring to Covid-19. This pandemic is of a far consequential matter. With the closing of many churches due to Covid, church services moved to homes all across the world via media. And although the restrictions have lifted in many parts of our country, many churches still have not opened their doors. Some due to still strict restrictions, others due to fear of the virus that is still lurking around, and many due to low or NO attendance.
Just like everyone else, I’m sure, I took to (certain) internet and social media to get the latest news on everything that was occurring in 2020. I became curious, however, with the comments that many “believers” were posting on some of the videos I watched. To my great dismay, one view kept popping up in many posts. “It doesn’t matter if the church doors are closed. You can worship God anywhere.” But can you worship God anywhere? Does it really matter? In this dispensation of grace, we are permitted certain liberties (1 Corinthians 10:23), yet an unchanging God still has a specific thought on the matter.
After the children of Israel came out of Egypt, and were wandering in the desert, God had commanded that they construct a mobile tabernacle and all of the things pertaining to it. There, God would meet with His people and dwell amongst them as they traversed through the wilderness. When they had conquered the promised land and established their boundaries and cities, the tabernacle remained a place where they would go to worship God. It was set in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), but many of the tribes of Israel over time had, because of sin and laziness, stopped going to the tabernacle and instead erected high places and groves (1 Kings 3:2; 14:23; ; 2 Kings 12:3; 17 :9-11).
SO, WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT THAT?
“I learn a lot more from televangelists and radio preachers than I do in church.” “There are too many bad preachers, cold members, and boring sermons. I can do better by just studying the bible at home.” “There aren’t too many good churches where I live.” These are, no joke, actual comments I’ve read recently from people on various online videos. True, there are a lot of apostate churches and preachers. And it seems lately that our services have become routine and the people indifferent to the Word and each other, but can we abandon the church altogether? What of the people who worshipped in the high places? High places were designated areas where the people came to worship by praying, burning incense, and making sacrifices. These places were identifiable by standing stones or marked caves, or they just worshiped under a tree. Even after Solomon had built the temple, the people continued to use the high places. God condemned His people for such acts (Leviticus 26:30) and accused them of following the idolatry practiced by other nations, and approved those kings who tore them down (2 Chronicles 14:3, 5; 17:6). “But isn’t a church building just the same? For today, WE are the temple of God.” The rejection of the attendance of a present day church service is often argued on these grounds. The purpose of the temple of God was so that He may dwell with His people, nevertheless, God does not desire to live on an “I” land. We continually see in scripture that He always called for the ASSEMBLY (Lev. 8:4; Numbers 8:9; 10:3; Deut. 5:22; Joel 1:14; Hebrews 10:25).
WHAT THE USE?
Are, perhaps, the most frequented words on the lips of many teenagers every Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday night. And I’m afraid, also in the hearts of many Christian adults. We get up, grumble; get dressed, grumble; urge our kids to get ready, double grumble; climb into the car, grumble; and make it to church where we try to subside the grumbling only to sit down in our usual pew and find something else to grumble about. This is the norm of Christian worship today. Why? Because we have missed the PURPOSE of the assembly of believers!
Church assembly is not for self-fulfillment or gratification (1 Cor 11:18-22;2 Cor. 8:4-5; Phil. 2:21; 2 Tim. 4: 3); but for the edifying of the believers (1 Cor 14:12; Ephesians 4:12, 16; 1 Thess. 5:11; 1 Tim. 1:4; Heb. 10:25b); to be perfected unto good works (Heb. 10:24, 13:21; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2: 10; 2 Cor. 6:1) so that we may, ultimately, give glory to the Father (Romans 15:6; 1 Peter 2:12). And as those things are being done, the LORD will add to the church (Acts 2:47, 16:5). Choosing to worship alone defeats the will of God for the body of believers. The body of Christ can not function with rogue body parts. So as we head into 2021, commit to be part of a bible believing, local, new testament church and, thus, fulfill the purpose God has for His people.
Written by April Islas