As human beings, we are social animals. We were created to interact and fellowship with each other. Relationships are important and needed. Often, these take years to build and develop, and when we can’t gather as friends, family–especially as a church family–we miss each other, and the lack of gathering or meeting has an adverse effect upon us as human beings. We not only miss each other, we long for each other! Things are changed from Monday past, as churches may meet again … but consider this:
Not Meeting with Family and Loved Ones
Blood is thick than water, they say … well, it is! This is why when we fight as family members we normally repair the damage as soon as possible because we are blood-related. Families are special and precious, even if we are not all part of the Kingdom of God.
I recall how my mom used to haul us children off each Sunday afternoon to grandma’s house. All her remaining siblings were there (initially there were ten or eleven) with their spouses. Normally, my sister and I were the only kids. It was like a weekly ritual. They spoke and laughed and drank tea and ate cake.
For me, this was a pain … no one to play with … yet the adults had a ball. They were such a close knit family … and then grandma died … and slowly the family did not meet regularly and there were signs of loss because of fragmentation in the family. You don’t know what you have as a family until the family splits up and some members either die off or move far away. Enjoy what you have whilst you have it.
Thinking back … I was the escape artist … always wanting to be away from home and family … and today I rue the fact that I never spent the time with the family that I could have and should have. Please don’t do the same. Invest in your family relationships. They are your human support base.
Not Meeting as a Church Group
One of the hardest things for me was not to meet with the church family. Once I retired from the congregation I pastored for 29 years, I was told to resign my membership. That was extremely painful, as many of the brothers and sisters had walked with me for all of those years. We tried a few other churches, but as Reformed, Evangelical Anglicans it was difficult to find a suitable home where the Bible was taught.
Then lockdown hit us. One might think not being able to go to church is great–it means sleeping late, no shaving or showering, having a late breakfast and watching online services/sermons. Actually, it’s not fun at all.
Then, when the church embargo was lifted, no hugging or shaking hands and no singing without masks … all for the right reasons but, it’s not the way we know and love. Not meeting with spiritual and eternal family removes one of the most solid relationships a Christian could enjoy. We agree with and support the Psalmist when he sings:
Ps 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
The one outside of God’s eternal family would never be able to understand this. Spiritual union feeds the deepest parts of the soul because we are God’s blood-washed children joining in meaningful fellowship around God’s Word, in the presence of God, as the people of God. We also know (without twisting the verse) the Psalmist’s joy when thinking of worship:
Ps 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This ought to be the intention as worshippers gather, for God gave us one day in seven by which to gather in worship. This is why the writer to the Hebrews is so pointed when he writes:
Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
It’s no good missing gatherings like when church meetings where banned due to lock down when we don’t gather when we can!
This writer encourages his readers because the Day of the Lord (Jesus’ Second Coming and Judgment) is in sight … whenever that might be … and we must “ready” ourselves for that Day as we meet together as His People. Not only are we taught His precious Word, we sing and pray together. It’s here that the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, convicting, disciplining, rebuking, correcting through teaching, encouraging and loving us. As this writer says … “Let us not give up meeting together”. This is our spiritual support base.
Not Meeting with God
When this happens, both the family relationship and church relationships suffer, because meeting with God is without question the most important relationship ever! It is the foundation to all other relationships. Is it not strange that so many go thin on this relationship when it is the most vital union anyone could ever have? Just think about the soul that is born again, enjoying spiritual intercourse with the Divine! Listen to the words of the Psalmist as he explains his need for such a union:
Ps 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Using an easy-to-understand illustration of a thirsty deer “panting” for water, he explains his soul’s desperate need for God. He is very expressive here for he does not just “pant” for God … he “thirsts” for the Living God! You see, the Living God is the only One who gives life to the thirsty soul! His cry was literally, “where can I go and meet with the Living God?” Today we know where … for by His Spirit, He lives within His people, it’s in the Word and through intimate prayer that we find and meet God! Every relationship hangs on this one. Stop everything that gets in the way and make certain meeting with God comes first each and every day! This is your Divine support. Without it, everything else either falls apart or fails.
Dear Lord God Almighty, thank You for creating us to be social and relational beings. Protect our family and church relationships through keeping us in a dynamic union with Yourself all the time. For Christ’s sake, Amen.