Last month, I shared that one of the reasons we invite people to church, one of the core ideas for why we encourage people to be present in public worship is because of the intentionality within worship of "Communion" with God. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to give us life to the full and the only way that happens is when we are in a Common Union with God through Jesus. Worship is a place where we act on our need for a Savior through confession and absolution as well as Holy Communion. That the deepest core of our humanity is based on the relationship we have with the God that desires an intimate relationship with us. We were created for Him. Sin makes that relationship dead and damaged, repentance and forgiveness renews and restores our true selves - a daughter, a son of the King of Kings.
But there is another reason to gather in worship and that is the Common Unity that we have by being alive in Christ. We may be very different, have different likes and dislikes, skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, and economic realities. But at the foot of the cross, all are equally needy, all are equally redeemed and that common reality gives us the common ground that we need for true Community. Being on our own may be less messy at times, but we were made for community. Our gifts are not meant only for us, but are meant to contribute to the better functioning of the whole of society.
Yes, you can worship in your car, at home, by yourself and you should do this. Yes, you can worship with your family, in your Bible study, and in your small group and you should do this. But there is nothing quite like when people come in a common belief in our need for Communion with God, hear of his great love for us individually and then celebrate with one voice the truth of who Jesus is... There's just nothing like it.
And it's not just in the 1 hour on a Sunday, but the accountability, friendships, affirmations, encouragements, and hard conversations that come from trusted Christian friends. One author has said that sin makes us less human, a step further away from what it means to be truly made in the image of God. In a world hellbent on destroying the humanity of the individual and turning community into a cancer, being part of the Body of Christ, remains one of the greatest tools to stay connected to God in deep relationship with him. Rooted in the extravagant love of Jesus as we seek to live out life to the full.
Going to church isn't about a religious duty. Going to church isn't about relationship with an institution. Going to worship, being part of church, being part of the Body of Christ, is one of the most human things that we do. Made to be image bearers of Jesus who we love, God is conforming us to Christ's likeness - that we would be little Christs in the world, helping others find healing and life in broken and dead places. There is no better place than to be connected to God in Communion with him in a deeply personal way. And there is no better place to be connected to the mission of God and making his glory known, than to be in Community with others who have that communion unity through Christ.
Why go to church? For communion and community, it is ultimately what we were truly made for!
Have a great Thanksgiving!