Why should we go to church meetings? Well, there is the obvious: the Bible commands it. Hebrews 10:25 says we should not neglect meeting together, and that this becomes increasingly important as we see The Day approaching. But there are two major reasons for going to a meeting of the church and a bunch of other ones (that I will not dare to call “minor!”).
We used to sing a song, “I Don’t Know What You Came To Do” that attempted to answer this question back in the ancient times of the 70s. The words of the original were very simple:
“I don’t know what you came to do,
I came to praise the Lord.”
Then there would be a bridge with “Allelu, allelu, allelu-u-ia.”
A creative alternative to verses in a church meeting I attended once had additional verses, but all centered on worship:
“Some people come just to show off their clothes,
But I came to see the Lord.”
This was followed by:
“Some people come just to talk to their friends,
But I came to hear from the Lord.”
And a couple other verses that followed this theme.
So one of the beneficial reasons for gathering with other followers of Jesus Christ is to worship him in corporate fashion. There is something tremendously uplifting to hear an anthem choir sing, whether it is patriotic songs, Broadway show tunes or love songs. But when the object of that anthem singing is a friend and lover, a savior and healer, one who loves you more than His own life, prestige, privilege or comfort . . . and when the anthem in sung from the hearts of a large group of people, there is something overwhelming in it. It lifts you into a preview of Revelation 5:9-14! Beyond that are times of corporate prayer, either led by someone or simply everyone joining together to talk with the Lord.
There are two major reasons, though, for gathering with a meeting of the church. The first is simply because sometimes I need the encouragement of others struggling with the same things with which I struggle. They may at times be further along than me in following Jesus and can tell me how to listen more carefully to His voice, what He is teaching them in their conversations, and what “the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 12, 22). Their “ears” are simply better attuned than mine.
Along with this is solid Bible teaching from scholars who study the history and cultural contexts of the Scripture’s human authors. Their insights can often make a difference in how I understand certain passages of the Bible.
An example of this is what Ron Gifford once explained about loving our enemies. Proverbs 25:21-22 instructs us:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.”
Paul reiterates this instruction years later in his letter to the Romans in 12:19-21:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.“
Now when I was a kid, I heard this expressed as a wonderful way to make an enemy suffer! Like the old adage, “Smile; it’ll make your enemies wonder what you are up to,” my understanding of these verses was that by being kind, my enemy would wonder what I was scheming and would become suspicious, always looking over his shoulder for when I would get even with him; his life would become a constant misery because I had been nice!
However, when a historian explained this in its cultural context, I realized I had a lot of growing up in Christ to do! You see in the times in which Solomon and Paul lived, they did not have matches or automatic lighters. Fire was actually a precious commodity, especially for cooking or staying warm in cold months and for light at night. When someone lacked a fire he could not cook his food, warm himself or light his path!
A common way of transferring fire was to put the hot embers in a large bowl and since heat rises, it was awkward to carry it in front of your body, so the bottom of the bowl would be wrapped and placed on ones’ head. I learned from those wiser than me that my heart had some adjusting to do to come into line with what the Scripture actually taught about loving my enemies.
There is a second major reason for going to a meeting of the church. Sometimes others need the encouragement I can offer because I have overcome some of the struggles with which they are struggling. I may at times be further along in following Jesus than some others and can help them listen more carefully to His voice as He is teaching me stuff in our conversations. My “ears” may be better attuned at times, and if I do not offer how God is guiding me, it reflects a selfishness that is less than Jesus wants from me. This includes sometimes sharing insights that I have learned in Bible study . . . or from Ron 😉!
So among the many reasons for attending a meeting of the church: fellowship, Bible study, worship, friendship, mission sharing, etc, there are two major reasons for going;
Sometimes I need it; Sometimes I am needed.