Why do we purposefully gather with other believers? What is the purpose? What's the point? Is it about worship or edification or both? Is it just a religious exercise so we can feel good about ourselves? Is it so we can build relationships and love others? Is it so we can stir others up and share knowledge?
Have you ever asked yourself why?????
I've been asking myself why I want so bad to gather with believers. I think I've come to the conclusion. My final answer is Jesus. Seems simple enough, right? "Bobby that's kind of vague, what do you mean by that?"
Well for starters, we as believers have a few main purposes for still being on the earth. One is to advance the kingdom by spreading the gospel so that more and more will come to know and be changed by Jesus. The other (which is just like it) is to be a spiritual house for God by becoming more and more like Jesus "in whom the fullness of the Godhead is pleased to dwell". So what does this look like and what does it have to do with the gathering?
There is no simple answer. I think it will look different for everyone because everyone is different. But the one common denominator will be that Christ will be on our lips. We will be encouraging those who are faithfully seeking and sharing Christ and rebuking those who are satisfied with empty religion that pleases only themselves. We will be revealing the richness of His character and marvelling at his love until we've stirred each other up to overflow with Christ everywhere we go. We will be plotting and planning ways to share the love of Christ in word and deed with a lost and dying world.
As for those who are already in Christ: we will not hold grudges with one another. We will give each other the benefit of the doubt and let love cover offenses. We will seek to edify and build up others and give no thought to ourselves. We will have to regularly forgive each other when our feelings get hurt or someone rubs us the wrong way. We will be gracious by not demanding perfection according to our standards but by seeing one another as God sees us: as a perfect work, yet in progress.
One thing I am realizing is that I have spent so much time in church trying to get others to love me. I say the right things, act the right way, drop the right names, read the right books, and recite the right creeds. In the end I'm only trying to please myself. Not good! We have two commandments: love God with all we've got and love others as ourselves. It's not about being loved, it's about giving it. More than that, it's about giving love to those who least deserve it and reciprocating love back to the One who love us first when we didn't deserve it.
So, my answer to the questions above as to "why?" Like I said, Jesus. He embodies the tender, giving, loving, forgiving, grace of God that we are to display and spread around the world. It's time we stop trying to please ourselves and get with the program. It's time to pour ourselves out and let God have his vessel. It's time to realize He doesn't exist for us, we exist for Him.