Text: 2 John 4-13
If you go on social media to find out what else people missed most about not meeting together. The overwhelming number of comments mentioned sensory elements. Touching. Seeing
Heartfelt hugs and handshakes of dear friends and new acquaintances.
The sound of God’s people passionately raising their voices in praise together.
Watching those going through painful trials lift their souls to their faithful Father in prayer and song.
The robust “Amen!” of people responding to the preached word.
Saints, feeling victorious and defeated, experiencing grace and mercy in the Lord’s Supper.
Opportunities to encourage, pray for, counsel, and get to know both members and visitors.
And for some simply, the biscuits, coffee and socialising.
One person’s response to the question “What do you miss most about not gathering?” was simply – ‘Everything’
So What Difference Does Gathering Make?
When we sing God’s praise together, He is exalted more highly than if we do it alone. His inherent glory doesn’t change, but the manifestation of it does.
It’s the difference between playing a football championship in an empty stadium (not such a strange thought these days) and playing the same game in front of 30 000 screaming fans. The final score is no different but the glory of the winning team in the second scenario will far surpass that of the first.
‘Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.’ Psalm 34:3 and ‘I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you’ Psalm 35:18
There are occasions during my personal times of Bible reading, prayer, meditation and sung worship when I experience the Holy Spirit’s sweet conviction, assurance that my sins are forgiven and a fresh sense of comfort and security in God’s promises.
But those times don’t replace what I do every Sunday with the church. That’s because we’re living stones, not random bricks, being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit 1 Peter 2:4-5; As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus the Christ.
Ephesians 2:22 In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The loud praises of those around us remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and that God is supremely worthy of our trust.
We are strengthened by the counsel and prayers of friends.
If we are ‘eager for manifestations of the Spirit,’ as Paul says, then we should ‘strive to excel in building up the church’ 1 Corinthians 14:12
Corporate worship is meant to fuel and direct the way we serve others for the glory of God.
God intends our times together to be a means of stirring up ‘let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works’Hebrews 10:24 and then 25 in that same chapter goes on to say, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Although God is omnipresent, at times He chooses to localise his presence. He makes us more aware of his activity in us or among us.
We can’t always predict when that will be but one of those occasions seems to be when we sing together. The Psalms connect God’s name being near with recounting his deeds Psalm 73:28; But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
Psalm 75:1 We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name isnear We recount your wondrous deeds.
In Psalm 105:2-4, in the midst of singing God’s praises, we’re encouraged to Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 4 Seek the Lord and His strength; seek his presence continually!
Even in times of social distancing, we can share the good news of the gospel with friends and neighbours.
But what we can’t do is bring them to a meeting where they see a community of people reflecting the same humility, joy and passion for Christ they see in us.
Corporate worship gives people who are not yet students of Jesus, a broader and better picture of what Jesus looks like.
It brings Jesus’s life-transforming work into focus in a way a single person’s testimony doesn’t