After a week of work (plus events, obligations, and other opportunities), I’m often not worth much by Friday evening. I have just run out of energy, mental capacity, and motivation. A good, solid day of rest on Saturday or Sunday (sometimes salvaged from two half-days of less-draining activities) does wonders, and I can find myself ready to tackle new challenges sometimes as early as Sunday afternoon.
However, even if my body and mind are ready for the effort and problem-solving of a new week with a restful weekend, there is a drain on my soul if I don’t periodically recharge it, as well. Missing church (which occasionally happens due to illness, travel, or – on rare occasions – work obligations) starts to take its toll on me. I’m not the same at work or with my family, and things just start to feel “run down”, especially if I miss two or three Sundays in a row. (On the other hand, anything in my life significant enough to result in missing more than one week of “recharging” in a row is probably taking its own toll, as well.)
Admittedly, Sunday morning (when my family typically worships with others in our congregation, as a larger group) isn’t always peace and harmony – it’s not just about getting something out of the morning. At least one of my family members (usually including me) normally has obligations or volunteering opportunities on any given week. Some Sundays, I have so many people to see and talk with, that I feel like I’m bordering on running afoul of Jesus’ commands not to make God’s house a place of business (John 2:15-16).
Still, when I’m done, I have a renewed sense of strength. It’s tough to put my finger on it, but my week goes better when I start it with other Christians. Like the psalmist, I can affirm that it is good for me to have been in the house of the Lord.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Psalms 122:1 NASB
Maybe it is the combination of other Christians with various talents (especially those that I don’t share, like teaching young children or making music) working together for the glory of God. Maybe it is because I get to see that I’m not alone in the struggle to live life according to God’s will. Maybe it is just because Jesus keeps His promise to be with us – apparently in some special way that is different from His normal omnipresence – when we are gathered in His name.
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Matthew 18:19-20 NASB
Let me be clear: this is an observation, and not a judgment on others. I understand that there are many who cannot attend church services on a given weekend, for circumstances outside of their control. Special thanks to those in the medical profession, law enforcement, and other roles, who keep society going on weekends so that others can take some time off. I understand that jobs, caring for others, and other obligations may fall on Sundays. For those who can’t gather at traditional times, it is my hope and prayer that you are able to gather with others for some spiritual “recharging” and refreshment at other times of the week.
However, some believe that our spiritual walk with God can be filled up by Him directly, and that we don’t have to take opportunities – where He offers us these chances – to regularly be encouraged by (and to encourage) others. Yes, God is great. Spending time alone with Him is essential – whether out in the woods or on the golf course (or so I’ve heard – I’m not a golfer, myself).
However, if we claim that this is all that there is to our walk with Him, and if we intentionally skip the opportunity to spend regular time in fellowship with others of similar faith, we can only do so by contradicting what He himself taught us:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB
So, if you sense that your spiritual life could use a boost, or if you just aren’t experiencing the richness of the Body of Christ that others talk about, make a little time to be with others who seek the same communion with God that you do. If you absolutely can’t be with other followers of Jesus in person, find an alternative way to “share life” remotely.
Sure, other Christians – including myself – are imperfect. Sometimes, the rest of the family that God calls you to be with will be a little weird (but what family isn’t?), and it may be a little uncomfortable to invest in others and be open with them. But, God doesn’t make mistakes, and if this is His calling, let’s at least give it a try.