Good morning friends. Today is a difficult day for me, a day I do not usually write a blog because I am busy with the church. Today I cannot meet with my brothers and sisters due to the flu and so my heart flees to the Psalm:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
As much as I can understand the sentiment of the psalmist the difference is I miss meeting with the people not with God because God is here with me. He is always with me. I do not have to go anywhere special to meet with him. I don't have to go on a pilgrimage to discover him. I don't have to walk the streets of Jerusalem and visit Bethlehem to know my God. I do not have to visit any great cathedrals or even take a long walk in the forest. I don't have to climb any mountain or visit any remote monastery. My God has promised to be with me. It is the promise he has always made to his children.
He promised Isaac
Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. (Genesis 26:3)
He promised Jacob:
Then the LORD said to Jacob, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you." (Genesis 31:3)
He promised Moses:
And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:12)
He promised Joshua:
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
And, he promised all of us:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Of course this is encouraging news but it is not enough. Did that suddenly get your attention? Yes, if we were stranded on an island or thrown into a jail cell, separating us from other believers, God's grace would cover us and he would sustain us. However, the truth of the matter is that we have never been meant to experience God alone. Some of the worship songs we sing, although I agree with the sentiment, are wrong; Jesus is not all that we need. Maybe I need to word that differently. Jesus is all that we need, he is more than enough but the context in which we experience him is important. We can experience him on our sick bed and in the darkness of our lonely hours but the true richness of that experience is only understood in the context of the Body of Christ.
I am not saying that this is the experience a believer has in organized religion. It is true that some churches believe they are promoting the gospel of Christ but they are really building a business, and, if successful, an empire based on a man or group of men, or even a woman. I am not certain anyone can experience much in these places. What I am talking about is:
"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:19-20)
It does not matter how believers come together just as long as they do. As they do they have the responsibility to minister to each other:
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-16)
When we accepted the free gift of salvation and when we made Jesus Lord over us, when we died to our former life, when we were raised from that death to be brought alive in Jesus, we were not left as an island. We were not made a new creation in isolation. Immediately we were brought into the Body, the Church, and a wonderful thing began to happen:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The richness of our relationship with Jesus Christ is experienced in the context of the Body of Christ, and that is what I am missing on this fine Sunday morning. I hope, it is my prayer, that you are finding a place this morning to gather with two or three or a thousand believers. I pray that as you share the Word, testimony, praise and worship that you will experience the presence of Jesus in a way that will enable you to continue your journey of service with joy and peace. I long to be in that place with you this morning.
If you think you do not need the Body of Christ, you do not know as you aught to know. Do not be so selfish. It is not just you who is being effected today. You are not just harming yourself. You were re-created to be part of the Body because you need us and we need you. You have been given things that complete us. We need you to operate in those things in the Body so we can grow in maturity together. Stop being so selfish; join with us and share. Learn to forgive and to be forgiven. One of the greatest lessons we have learned from Jesus is forgiveness, a vital lesson for the members of the Body to live out and one that cannot be exercised in isolation. Make the effort today. Gather with two or three believers, even if it is over coffee; share, sing, testify to God's goodness, honour him and see how he will honour you.