The Church is the Gathered People of God
When we come together in Jesus’ name, we wage war against the powers of darkness. Whether in homes, in a rented space, or at a local coffee shop, if we meet with the expressed purpose of experiencing the risen Jesus in our midst then we participate in God’s advancing Kingdom in our world.From another angle, when we gather together we have the opportunity to check our spiritual temperature both as individuals and as a congregation. This happens in very tangible ways. We can regularly reflect on the integration of our external self (body, behavior, patterns of activity, etc.) with our internal self (heart, mind, will, emotions, etc). We may desire a greater depth of God’s presence, but feel helpless in pursuing it. Or, we may be doing the right things, but wonder sometimes if our hearts are really in it. Our times of praise with music can be a real opportunity to bring these two parts of ourselves together. In doing so we learn what it feels like to submit our bodies to the leading of God’s spirit, as well as the importance of just doing what is right even when our heart isn’t (yet) in it.
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis suggests that our hearts will almost always follow our bodies. As usual, Jesus said it better: where your treasure is (that is, anything that you care about) – your heart will be there also. If we offer our time, money, talents, creativity to God’s ‘Kingdom’ activities then we may be surprised to find ourselves caring much more than we did before. And caring about what God cares about is really what it means to become his Son or Daughter in a practical sense. Many of us have been adopted into God’s family, but have yet to align our values and priorities with God’s. We remain his children by faith, but fail to enter the work of his Kingdom. When we gather as God’s family we can remind one another of those values and priorities, and give courage to one another to rearrange our lives in order to pursue them. I close with Paul’s timeless words from Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Grace and Peace