Come home, to church

Years ago I worshiped while sitting on a crude wooden bench in a former potato warehouse in rural India, our singing accompanied only by the thump of a single drum! And I have worshiped in great cathedrals offering my heart to God while accompanied by majestic music of a pipe organ, led by people dressed in ornate robes. I am most at home in a contemporary informal worship setting that is common among American evangelicals.

I read from another of God’s preachers today, an ancient named Haggai. After that 70 year long stretch in Jerusalem’s history when God allowed the Assyrians to overrun Jerusalem, the exiles returned from Babylonia to rebuild.  They were enthused about their own homes, but neglected the Temple restoration.

Haggai heard from the Lord and asked a pointed question. “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. …. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.” (Haggai 1: 3-5, 8-9, NIV)  

The Temple was NOT an accessory, it was of critical importance, God said.

Yes, Christians are God’s temples. You could object that Haggai’s words should not be read about the place of the Church for us. Think again! The New Testament, does teach that we are, individually, the ‘temples’ in which the Spirit lives, that our lives are to be acts of worship. That is just half the story.

Christians are called to gather, to worship, to be the Church.  We are told to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:22-25, NIV)

I’m following your reasoning. “OK, Jerry. But the Word does not say anything about the building.” Right you are!  We can come together in someone’s living room, a school gymnasium, a chapel by the roadside, a store-front mission, or a cathedral. But, we are to gather

Have you made gathering with Believers a first priority choice? COVID restrictions created hardship for us over the last year, but the digital age made it possible for us to ‘gather’ virtually. Thankfully, our buildings are open again. Will you re-connect, for Christ’s sake? Few choices have the same impact on the practice of our faith as regular, faithful attendance to worship; with the intention of focusing on His Presence and connecting with His people.

An honest reading of the New Testament convinces us of the importance of being part of the church.  The Greek word translated as ‘church’ is ‘ekklesia’ literally meaning “called-out ones.” It is a word borrowed from Grecian democracy in which the “ekklesia” gathered regularly and often to do the work of the people, the group embodying the value and principles of that society.  We are the ones called out of the world to gather as God’s own people!  When we do, we make the invisible God visible in His Body, preparing as the ones gathered to be His people scattered for the work of Christ in the world.

Here’s a word from the Word. Focus on the word together. “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18-22, NIV)

Hope to see you in church soon!  It’s not just about you; it’s about HIS GLORY, experienced and expressed.

_______________

By Our Love (listen, pray, learn, commit!)

Brothers let us come together
Walking in the Spirit
There’s much to be done
We will come reaching
Out from our comforts
And they will know us by our love

Sisters we were made for kindness
We can pierce the darkness
As He shines through us
We will come reaching
With a song of healing
And they will know us by our love

The time is now
Come church arise
Love with His hands
See with His eyes
Bind it around you
Let it never leave you
And they will know us by our love

Children you are hope for justice
Stand firm in the Truth now
Set your hearts above
You will be reaching
Long after we’re gone
And they will know you by your love

Christy Nockels © 2009 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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