Monday, November 7, 2011

Meetings of the Church

Having discussed some of the principles of fellowship and unity and order and submission in the church, it should be obvious that none of these things can be put into practice unless we meet together as a church. But how important is it that we meet together? Is it important that we come to all of the meetings of the church? What should our attitude be toward the meetings of the church? Let us begin by looking at a passage of Scripture. In Acts 2:42 we read that the early disciples “Continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles, in the fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.” They committed themselves to all four of these specific gatherings. Why did the early believers feel that it was so important for them to be committed and steadfast in the meetings? To properly understand this we must first look at the broader context of these early days of the church. We have already noticed that there are two foundational stones for the church upon which everything is built. Let us see how these might lead to the conviction that we see here toward meeting together. Our first stone is the Lordship of Christ and His position as head of the church; the second is the truth of our unity in the body of Christ. Let me suggest that if we have a proper grasp of these two things our attitude toward the meeting of the church will be exactly what it should be. Let us consider the principle of the unity of the body. There would be serious problems in a physical body if certain body parts suddenly became apathetic about when or how often they wanted to be with the other parts of the body. It may be that we don’t have the same devotion and commitment to meeting together as the early church did because we don’t really think of ourselves as being part of a body, but rather as part of an organization or club where attendance is a matter of convenience.
If we look more closely at the context of the passage mentioned above we will see that the purpose for gathering together is always focused on encouraging and taking care of others, not ourselves. We see in Acts 2 that the believers met together daily from house to house. These daily meetings may have been for nothing more than fellowship, but it shows how well they understood how a body functions. We also read in this chapter that they did not hold anything to be their own, but were happy to share what they had with those in need. Well that sounds just like a body. A hand doesn’t say things like, “Those are my fingers; you need to get your own.” Members of a body don’t worry about personal possessions. Now you might say that these things are just not practicable today. “We don’t even have time to attend all the regular meetings much less meet in people’s homes every day. Life just runs at a faster pace today then it did back then.” The writer to the Hebrews warns against the tendency to forsake our commitment to gathering, “And let us consider one another to stimulate unto love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but encouraging one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). If we cannot even practice the foundational elements of the church, then what hope do we have of truly being used by God to accomplish His purpose. God is gracious and uses us in spite of our weakness, but how much more could we accomplish if we would return to the foundational principles of the church and allow God to build us up from there.
May God help us to understand what it means to be members with one another of the body of Christ. As God teaches us these things I pray that we will continue steadfastly in our commitment to one another not only in meeting together but in our love and care for one another, just as if we were members of the same body (which we are).