Discerning the Body
I watch as worshippers notice each other, smiles wide, eyes lit with gladness. I see hands reaching out for other hands, arms about shoulders, the occasional hug. I hear the whispered, reverent laughter of old friends rediscovered, of children cherished. Encouragement is in the air.
Mere obedience could never be the cause of all of this. Obligation alone could never bring about this edifying result. The apostle’s counsel was not, as some remember it, “Do not forget to come to church,” as though the benefit of public worship lay chiefly in maintaining a religious habit. What the author of Hebrews actually wrote was: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24, 25).
The writer knew from deep personal experience that worshipping with fellow believers is one of the greatest tonics for body and spirit. He knew that in the embrace of Christ’s body many sorrows evaporate and a hundred pains seem easier to bear.
The reason we ought to worship regularly with others is simply that Christ reveals Himself more fully among the two or three than He ever can to the one, no matter how devout. We understand His Word more fully when we hear it in the mouth of a believer. We better grasp the healing He intends us to share with the world when we allow the handshake or the hug of another Christian to comfort us in wordless ways.
Seventy years ago, a German pastor living in a land then ruled by terror wrote these memorable words: “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” As the clouds of violence and war descended, he found his solace in the Christ he found in fellow believers, in the miracle of openheartedness from those whose greater loyalty was to the gospel of peace.
As our world slides toward greater pain and brokenness, we, too, will find our higher joys to be the ones we share among other men and women of faith.
This Sabbath, as you worship, stir up some love and good works. Offer some encouragement. Build up the body of Christ.
— Bill Knott