Why should you show up on a Sunday morning? Ever wonder that? I imagine most of us have a general sense of, "Well...it's what you do. " But let's be honest: a general sense isn't of much benefit when we're discouraged, bored or just don't feel like rolling out of bed.
The saints gathered on Sunday morning is so much more than the right thing to do; it's essential for the health of the church. Get this: you are needed on Sunday morning. Let me give you four reasons why.
1. You're a necessary part of the body
It's no mistake that Paul uses the image of a body when he talks about the church in 1 Corinthians 12 or in Romans 12. Each of us individually comes to Jesus in the same way: through faith. And each of us individually is joined to Jesus in His body. We are therefore interconnected and mutually dependent on one another through Jesus.
We not only experience radical equality through Jesus (we all come by grace, through faith) but we experience radical connection through Jesus. But not as clones; rather as diverse members of a body. Just as our hands do different things than our noses (but both are essential) so you, Christian, are essential to the health and growth of your local church.
What does that have to do with Sunday morning? Well, it's plumb difficult to use your gifts and serve as God has gifted you if you're not actually connected to the rest of the body! Jesus didn't save you to be a prosthetic arm to be employed on an ad hoc basis. He grafted you in and equipped you to serve His people as an integral part of the community life.
2. The church gathered is a form of protest
Let us not imagine that church-going is a cultural norm. Church-going is a form of counter-cultural protest. When we gather as the people of God, we are declaring to the world around -- to the forces of darkness and death -- that Jesus not only lives, but He reigns as the King of kings, and Lord over all powers. And that He reigns definitively here, in our midst. When the church gathers, we stand defiantly in the face of the powers of darkness and declare that our Savior is better than anything the world can offer.
3. We need to be reminded of who(se) we are
"The heart is deceitful," cried Jeremiah (Jeremiah 17:9). And ain't that the truth? Sin is sneaky, and the devil's strategy divides to conquer. There is something powerful about the people of God assembling together to listen to the word of God together. There is something soul-shaping about the saints gathering in the same place to sing the same songs. There is something unifying about the church uniting to lift its voice in unified response to the question, "Church, what do you believe?" When we gather, we are reminded-together-who we are and Whose we are.
4. We Need to Be Reminded that We're Not Struggling Alone
Our culture can be isolating. Social media can create the illusion that everyone else has their lives together, wrapped up in a big, beautiful Pinterest-worthy bow. Emails and tweets can create the feeling of connectedness, at the cost of actual in-person interactions. It's easy to simultaneously get overwhelmed by news reports of events that have little or no bearing on our actual experience, and to find ourselves drowning in echo chambers of opinion.
Church, there is something stabilizing about unplugging from the virtual realm and just showing up with people who share the same hope, struggle with the same issues, and find grace in the same place.
You are not alone.
And the gathering of the saints on a Sunday brings that reality to life.
The church needs you. And you need the church. Let us not forsake meeting together...