In our new church facility, our pastor has spearheaded an effort to create “The Legacy Room.” It is a place in the lower level of the church where “relics” from our past are displayed to help remind us of our rich heritage. As I have pondered the various things on display, I’ve realized that each item represents some sort of gathering or event when God’s people were together, for short or long periods of time, to celebrate His goodness.
Hanging on the wall are framed mini-posters with pithy quotes from great men of God. These posters decorated the walls in an apartment where several of us lived (in the mid 70’s) prior to any of us getting married. On the shelf is a little blue songbook which was the “hymnal” at a non-denominational church where many members of our current body attended several decades ago. There are some pieces of furniture both in our main sanctuary, and in the Legacy Room, that originally were in the old Methodist sanctuary on the main street in Millersport, a church in which several of our members grew up. Scrap books, sermon illustrations, record album covers…each item is a reminder of times when we worked, lived, played, and prayed together.
Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV) The fact that our Eternal Lord promises to be present, in a special way, when His people get together to honor His name should motivate us to find more opportunities to spend time doing just that. The writer of Hebrews gives us this encouragement:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:19-25, ESV)
According to this scripture passage, we meet together for these reasons:
- to honor our “great high priest” who is over the house of God who provided “a new and living way”
- to receive assurance of our faith
- to clear our conscience regarding impure thoughts and actions
- to confess our hope
- to remind ourselves that He who promised is faithful
- to stir up each other toward love and good works
- to encourage each other to press on
We might be tempted to think “I don’t need to go to church. I can receive the encouragement I need directly from the Lord. I can watch preachers on TV or listen to sermons on the radio.” But a review of the above list would indicate that this thinking falls short. You may not feel that you need the church (and you would be wrong to think that way). But consider this: the church needs you! You have a unique place in the body of Christ that no one else can fill.
May we come to the place where we can echo, with conviction, the words of King David: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3, ESV)