Did you ever think of going to church as a privilege? I have the feeling many, who have lived during the time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, are able to finally realize the answer to that question. Western believers are for the first time getting a taste of what believers in a majority of nations experience—the inability to meet together with other Christians.
I think that’s why this verse in Hebrews is so crucial:
The questions I raised throughout the pandemic experience are these: Will it bring a fundamental change to the Church? Will it refine and reinvigorate believers for the work of the Kingdom? Will it help believers to appreciate the importance of meeting together as the Body of Christ?
I believe the jury is still out on the answers, but it cannot stop us from asking them of ourselves and seeking the Lord’s work in our hearts to increase the longing for fellowship. Listen to these words by one whose fellowship was disrupted by war:
So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that a visible fellowship is a blessing.Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.
Did you get what Bonhoeffer said? The gathering of the Church today gives witness to the world of what the gathering will look like in eternity. Believers in isolation, due to various reasons, know the pain of longing. The world does not. Though they don’t grasp what they’re missing without the work of the Holy Spirit, we should not stop our efforts. As we fellowship in their sight, we show them the joy they could experience.
How does the world see your church gathering? Are they drawn to you or put off? Where do your longings lie? Be aware they may reflect your eternity.
Grace and Peace