Doesn't God love me unconditionally? Why can't I worship on my own, by myself, in nature, or at home, etc? Well,of course you can worship God anywhere, anyplace, anytime but gathering together with others in corporate worship is beneficial too.
It helps take the focus off self and reminds us we are part of a larger community that is called to praise God and be a part of God's mission in the world today.
Jesus died for you but he also died for your neighbor. Jesus tells us we are to both love God and love neighbor. When we gather with those who are like us (and those who differ from us ) we put into practice what Jesus taught. It's not always easy or comfortable to follow Jesus. It's much easier to say you love your neighbor if you never have to really spend time with or near them! If we take Jesus seriously though, we need to take His words seriously and strive to live by them.
Gathering together with other believers also reminds us that we are never alone in life's ups and downs. Together we are the body of Christ in our world today. We need one another to be whole. When a part of us is missing the rest of the body hurts and is not as effective. To put it plainly - we need one another, Christ gave us each other to strengthen, encourage and challenge us so our faith can grow stronger. The community of the Church is God's gift to us! Let's not leave it unopened, sitting on a shelf.
Let me share a story I heard. There was an old man who decided to stop coming to church. He felt he could worship god fine on his own and quite frankly, he didn't get along with everyone there. He didn't always like the music or the preaching. So he stopped attending. One day the pastor stopped by to visit him. They sat together enjoying a cup of coffee in front of the man's fireplace. As they spoke the pastor carefully removed an ember from the center of the fire. The two men watched as it glowed red on the hearth all by itself. Btu eventually the ember went dark. It couldn't sustain its glow apart from the rest the fire. As it slowly died, the old man looked at the pastor and understood. He said, " You're right of course. I'll see you in church on Sunday." Don't let your ember die out. Join us at Church!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!