DO NOT NEGLECT THE GATHERING OF THE BRETHREN
The scripture says, “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2 TAB). These are the words of the Psalmist. He expressed enthusiasm with those who said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ He knew the joy that overflows in one’s heart when one has an encounter with God.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a great thing to fellowship together in honour of the Lord. God is present in the midst of His children. The scripture says, “Truly I tell you once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in My name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20 NJB).
God is ever present in the midst of His people who gather in His name to seek His face, mercy, love, guidance, protection, and above all, to revere Him. It has always been the tradition of God to dwell in the midst of His children since the inception of time. It is also important to know that in gathering together, there is warmness, bonding and a joyful feeling which enwraps us, making us whole, caring, supported and godly.
Today, this rich culture is hardly embraced by many. Many have lost the joy of going to the House of God; it is now a burden to attend the gathering of the brethren. Many give invalid excuses why they are unable to participate in the gathering of God’s faithful. Some would say they are fine watching a church programme on television even on the Lord’s Day. Are you incapacitated? Are you on admission bed in the hospital?
Many have downloaded apps to watch a church programme in their bedroom. We need to ask ourselves if we are truly participants in the body of Christ when we wilfully decide not to go to church; when we sit in the sitting room and tune in to a church programme every Sunday without visiting one; when we watch a church programme in the bedroom on Sunday because of our laziness and lack of excitement in going to the House of God.
We have stylishly or willfully alienated ourselves from the body of Christ, His church. It is a rejection of the presence of God. Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we are doing ourselves great harm or disservice when we reject the presence of God. The ministers of the gospel must not support laziness. They must encourage the faithful to attend the gathering of the brethren. They must let the people know the television or apps are not churches but a means of winning souls into the sheepfold of God.
Parents must encourage togetherness in their homes, especially in prayer sessions, at mealtime, or during games. They must not be oblivious of the truth that “a house divided against itself will not stand” (See Mark 3:25). Deliberately create and establish that bonding, oneness and desire for togetherness in your homes. Dear friends, it is not good culture for food to be dished out and each one goes to his or her room to have the meal or entertain himself or herself with games or movies. You are doing your family harm. You are replacing the warmness and bonding of the family members with coldness and indifference towards one another. Charity, they say, begins at home.
Beloved friends in Christ, your mind may be filled with these questions or thoughts: Have you ever thought that the unwillingness of even sincere children of God to go to Church gathering might well be the result of the hypocritical and judgmental character apparent in the Church today? Have you ever considered the seeming institutionally-entrenched wickedness of church members and pastors? Have all the atrocities committed in the name of God not stunk in your nostrils enough to indicate that some persons might be feeling an even more odious stench than you are? I think that if people are no longer willing to go to Church, it is indicative of the failure of the Church rather than the evil in the hearts of men that is to blame.
I quite understand your sentiments, but should we abandon the church for the wicked or those who have strayed from the path of righteousness? Do you mean there is no longer a single believing church in your community to attend? Do you know you are able to discern what is good and evil because God wants to use you to correct what is wrong? Remember Christ said, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NRSV). And if you think the church will be totally free of evil doers until the Rapture takes place, you are only day dreaming. Kindly read the parable of the weed (Matthew 13:24-30) and know that God is a patient God who expects the wicked to change their evil ways and embrace life.
So, what is the right thing to do? We must not be resentful but correct one another in love. We must preach and defend the truth, as St Paul advised in his second letter to Timothy:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NRSV).
Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:23-26 NRSV).
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not be oblivious of the truth that the Church is a community of believers. Therefore, step out of your hideout and allow God use you to fulfill His purpose on earth. To all people of goodwill, let us rekindle the joy that once flooded our hearts when we first welcomed the Good News of Christ our redeemer. Let us fan into flame the willingness to fellowship as brothers and sisters in the Household of God. Let us ask God for the grace to take that bold step to join the faithful in fellowship. Let us encourage one another to embrace the family of Christ’s faithful. Let us be careful not to scandalise our Christian faith. Let us pray and seek those who have neglected the House of God.
The scripture says rightly:
Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works. Do not absent yourself from your own assemblies, as some do, but encourage each other; the more so as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NJB).
Have you lost the joy of fellowshipping with God’s faithful? Do you know those who have lost the joy of fellowshipping with God’s faithful? If yes, do you know God can rekindle that joy in our hearts when we thrust our burdens on Him?
Heavenly Father, inflame our hearts with joy, not only to long for Your presence, but to join the brethren in fellowship, in reverence and worship of You, the one and the only true God. Amen.
Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).