I had an epiphany recently. As we were sitting together on Sunday night, with our new church small group. We shared a meal together. We praised the Lord in song. We partook of the Word, and of the Lord's supper. But mostly, at least for me, it was about being together, in the Body of Christ. Lingering in His presence, as we sought the fellowship of the beloved.
As I came reluctantly away from the meeting, a scripture whispered in my ear. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is..." (Hebrews 10:25a). I found myself wondering if this is what the Lord was referring to. This time of fellowship in a smaller, more intimate group, perhaps? As opposed to the modern church service? It is easy in many churches to slip in and out again without truly connecting with the Body of Christ. Surely this kind of disjointed "body" cannot function correctly. His blood must flow freely through His body and each member be cleansed continually by the flow. His muscles must be used in a coordinated fashion in order for Him to be effectively ministering to the world around Him. His members must be near Him to become like Him, for surely we become like those we are with, as "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18).
I think many Christians fall into the trap of believing that drawing near to the Lord is experienced alone. And certainly it is that, when we are communing with Him in our prayer closet, and seeking his guidance throughout the day. But it is so much more! We are exhorted to continue meeting together, to encourage one another, to confess our sins one to another, to a unity of the faith, to pray for one another, to sharpen one another, to love one another and serve one another. All of us together, striving toward the same goal. To be more like Jesus, from glory... to glory!
And what about being with others who may not have it all "together"? I remember thinking on multiple occasions that I really wanted to spend some one-on-one time with a Godly family. A family who had gotten some things that I was struggling with. But whenever I encountered such a family, I was always paralyzed by fear. Fear that they wouldn't want to be with my family because we were certainly not "together" in so many ways.
And then I went through my "together" stage. When I thought things were going pretty well. The kids were pretty well behaved and, well, maybe we should just hang around others who were "good" also. After all, we wouldn't want any negative influence to rub off on us. Perhaps you hear the sarcasm in my voice.
Being with Jesus means being with people. Especially people who don't have it all "together". And when you are seeking after the heart of Jesus, pressing in to be near to him, that means you are, like Him, surrounded often by people (self included) who miss the mark. It's not about us. It's about Him.
I am certain that I would not be experiencing this had we not been searching for a new church. A wise preacher once said "go where people are getting saved". Well, our fourth church out, we came to an out-of-the-way, hard-to-find church to see John Clayton, who happened to be speaking at this church. We had just finished a 17-week series called "Does God Exist" by John Clayton in our home school, and we found a card on the bulletin board at Panera which advertised the very same series. We went out of curiosity, to see what kind of church would promote his teaching, which is not mainstream in regard to science and Christianity. It turned out that John Clayton himself was there and we met him in person! It was very exciting. We decided to visit the church also, hear the preaching and I went to the ladies Bible study. Everything lined up, and we have never been to a more "alive" church. There are tons of young people serving God, several ministries to disadvantaged families and people really want to know each other and hang out and fellowship. It is very precious to be a part of.
So, anyway, I am now eagerly pressing in to the Body of Christ. I am hungry for fellowship and looking forward to each occasion where I can be with these people. I feel like a huge missing element in my life has been filled in, and it is glorious! Thank You Lord!