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Welcome to Day 14 as we uncover the importance of gathering together. There is something special when God's people gather to learn and worship Him. As mentioned before, we were never meant to walk this life alone; that is why God gave us not only the Holy Spirit but brothers and sisters to do life with. We are made in the image of God, and He created us to have relationships, just like God himself desires to be in relationships.
Human interaction is healthy mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It's vital for true spiritual health. I make this point because of a co-worker experience I had many years ago. This person said to me, "I believe in God and I worship Him on my own, I don't need a church to do that." I was very young when I heard that argument and I did not have a great answer, but I knew that didn't seem right. As I matured in my faith, I came across a scripture that helped shape my understanding of what I was thinking.

Matthew 18:20  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Hebrews 10:24-25  24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Traps In Gathering Together

In the previous paragraph about the story with my co-worker, if you uncover why she made that comment, many times it's based on false pretenses. One is based on the idea that "The church wants my money.” The second is, "I was hurt by someone last time I went to church, you can't trust anyone from churches." I do want to target these two attacks that the church often faces and oftentimes push the believer further away from the body of Christ.

My mother had an experience many years ago when she was very young about this very thing. The story goes that when she went to church with my grandmother years ago, the pastor came up to them and said,  “You better start tithing, or you need to go to another church.” Now, I'm probably giving a very loose translation of what he said, but it stuck with my mother to this very day.
In scenarios like this, the enemy uses greed from an individual or a small group of people to push an agenda that isn't the Lord's. The enemy distorts the truth to make it seem like "every church" must be like that. The enemy will do everything to push you away from the truth and as believers, we have to look through that. The truth is this:  tithe/giving teaches us to trust God over money, and it's an expression of our gratitude for everything He has done for us. The enemy doesn't want us to trust God with all aspects of our lives, which includes the tithe.

2 Peter 2:3  In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.
Matthew 6:21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Over time, if you hang out in the church long enough, I can assure you there will be a moment when someone fails you or does something that offends you. The reason I know that is because the church is made up of human beings, and we are all flawed. No one is perfect, not even the pastor. It says in Ephesians the following:
Ephesians 4:32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  

If you are truly walking with Christ daily, I would encourage you to model the Lord's prayer in your own words, which is found in Matthew 6. It's very interesting because it prepares us ahead of time that offense will come against us, and we will offend others. That is why the Lord's Prayer says,

Matthew 6:12  "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
It's preparing us ahead of time that because we are human, and we live, work, and fellowship with other humans, it will get ugly at times because we are not perfect. So prepare yourself to be kind and compassionate, forgiving one another, being patient with one another.

You see, the enemy wants to keep us isolated, away from the body of Christ, away from gathering together. Isolation creates environments of vulnerability where the enemy can attack our thoughts (Genesis 3:3) and discourage our faith (John 10:10). Being by yourself is not a bad thing, but consistent isolation can and will feed into such things as depression and hopelessness. As emotional beings, we do feed off of the fellowship, encouragement, and momentum of others around us. Even if you are introverted, the gathering of Christians still matters, no matter your personality type. It feeds your emotional and mental health, we shouldn't neglect it. Even if someone has offended you, choose to not be offended, and forgive quickly. Don't allow that one person or situation to stop you from what God has for you.

Note: If there has ever been physical or sexual abuse, we can forgive, but it does need to be reported. There can be environments where mental, physical, or sexual abuse might have taken place, but that is a completely different scenario. There are times when we might need to leave somewhere because it has gotten to a place of pure corruption, and that is ok. If I may add, If that has been your experience, I would humbly suggest praying, and at the right time, as you heal, finding a healthy church family. This is vital to your spiritual development.

Denominational Differences

There will be different expressions of the body of Christ until Jesus comes. You have probably heard that birds of the feather flock together. Well, to a certain extent that is true for the body of Christ. In my experience, you have two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to styles. In fundamentalists, this group would be described as less emotional and more logically based spirituality. Then at the other end of the spectrum is the Charismatic side, which is sensitive to the emotional side of spirituality, but still roots itself in the logic and framework of scripture.
What this comes down to is personality type and personal preference. God made us with all different personality types, and that is the beauty of different expressions within the body of Christ. We are different parts, but we are one in Christ. I have learned there is nothing wrong with either (as long as Christ is anchored within these multiple expressions and the word of God is your foundation). I have been a part of both sides, and God uses both groups effectively. They both have pros and cons because humans are involved. Believe it or not, we even see this in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 1:11-17
11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[a]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

We are all imperfectly trying our best to pursue Christ. Let us be united as one, even though we have different preferences. Let's not tear one another down but build each other up through prayer and encouragement. We are one!

Types of Gatherings

Lastly, there are many types of gatherings nowadays. There are digital/virtual versus physical gatherings. Let me encourage you again, that "physically" meeting together matters, even if you have a great digital church experience. This isn't an attempt to stop church progress, but it's a call to unify the body of Christ even greater. We each have spiritual gifts, and how can those manifest digitally? It requires human interaction, and it hits home more when we are together and can encourage and operate within those gift sets.
We also see both gathering sizes, large and small gatherings, are present in scripture. A very simple illustration is Acts 2.
Acts 2:46  “They worshiped together at the Temple each day (large gatherings), met in homes (small groups) for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.”
Throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, you will see God’s people gathering together to worship God; it's what His people do. We see that worship through songs, prayer, fellowship, communion, ministry, and preaching are part of scripture gatherings. It pleases God that we gather together, no matter the size of the group.


Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Today's Questions

Additional Resources

Book - Letters To The Church
- Francis Chan : Click Here