As the wife of a pastor and mother of three little kids, I know how challenging it can be to get everybody out the door to go to church gatherings.
I can also empathize with those who struggle with being “present” once you're there. I recall one morning at a church gathering where I spent the entire time either caring for my colicky baby in the bathroom or collecting pieces of borrowed clothes for another child who had multiple accidents involving bodily fluids in children's church.
It's tempting to dive into feelings of futility on these occasions: “Was this morning all for naught?” or even to utter the more faithless despair, “What a waste!”
Personally, I tend to blame my attitude on my circumstances. But the real battle wages in my heart as I fight to cherish corporate worship and engage heart-and-soul in church activities.
As a natural-born sinner, I'm allergic to worshiping the Lord in all things at all times.
As a supernaturally born-again saint, I'm prone to love the God who loved me first.
Praise God that when the dust settles from the war with my flesh that he has the victory!
God's Word instructs us: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25).
Here are just ten of the things I remind myself of when I'm tempted to downplay the importance of corporate worship and ecclesiology in my life:
1. God is glorified in my public profession of his supreme worth. I can't think of a single joy that out-joys this privilege when I consider the grace of God that allows, commands, instructs, invites, and enables me to participate in worshiping him and giving him the glory he deserves.
2. Being part of the church is who I am as all the saints are united to one another under Jesus our Head. The Bible describes me as a brick in a building, a member of a family, a sheep in a flock, and a priest in a priesthood. Remembering who I'm saved to be in the context of the body of Christ helps deal with my prideful independence. I need to be part of the body; isolating myself from the body is to my detriment.
3. The Holy Spirit's indwelling means that my contribution to fellowship has tremendous value for others. The Spirit of God personally leads me to love my brothers and sisters through the Scriptural “one another's.” The body needs me, too; isolating myself from the body is to the detriment of others.
4. My particular season of life as a mom to young kids is a blessing not only to me but also to others. Among other things, this time is a visual, tangible, audible (and sometimes olfactory) reminder of our helplessness and need for our heavenly Father to care for us in every way. This unique season is not an inconvenience to me or to others, but a gift that serves to point us to depend on God for everything we need.
5. Participating in corporate prayer allows me to lift up the needs of the body and of the world before our heavenly Father who cares for us. Praying with the church mortifies my pride and engenders humility as we seek the Lord's will together for individuals in our midst, our city, and the world.
6. Corporate worship is a venue to participate in the sacraments of the Lord's Supper and baptism. It helps me to remember the plural “you” when I hear, “Christ's body and blood were given for you.” Witnessing baptisms strengthens my faith as I consider what a public profession of identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus truly means. Many of our brothers and sisters risk their physical lives in their profession of faith and baptism.
7. My participation in corporate worship is a safeguard against lackadaisical private worship. How well I know the ease of sliding into nonchalance regarding private prayer and Bible reading when the days and nights are full! Coming together with the body of Christ to worship the risen Christ reminds me that worship is not about me.
8. I can't witness to the unbelieving world of my unity and love unless I am united to others in brotherly love. Our love for one another tells the world about Jesus' love for them.
9. Studying the sermon's Scripture passage ahead of time during the week helps me to be a better expositional listener as I hear the Word of God preached. The Holy Spirit blesses my meditation on God's Word and keeps me from becoming “dull of hearing,” even when I'm distracted at times by my baby's cries.
10. Corporate worship is a taste of heaven as the nations gather and publicly adore Jesus together. More tastes of heaven? Yes, please!
*Blog previously posted on The Gospel Coalition blog.