(Thanks to Bill D. for inspiration on this one)
"Our Reason For Gathering"
A friend recently made the point that when people say they avoid church "because there's too many hypocrites there," they actually reveal their misunderstanding of the reason to gather with Christians for fellowship, mutual ministry, and time together with the Lord and His Word. "Well, the Lord Jesus Christ is there" responds my friend to such folks. "And He's not a hypocrite!"
Exactly. If our primary reason for attending church involves other people, we're missing the point. We come together with brothers and sisters in Christ to seek Him together in ways we cannot accomplish by ourselves.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).
We gather around "the chief Cornerstone" rather than around each other. Certainly we rejoice in the presence of one another, and we greatly benefit each other as we pray, study, sing, and enjoy the presence of other believers. However, our Lord's presence in the midst of His people transcends all, accounting for the primary reason for attending Christian gatherings of any type or variety. Such emphasis helps us to better enjoy the strengths of fellow Christians, and also extend mercy toward weaknesses. Indeed, it is sad to think of the many Christians who have unnecessarily wandered from the flock because some fellow sheep offended by commission or omission, or by the aforementioned hypocrisy. If the Chief Cornerstone and the Chief Shepherd serves as our reason for gathering, such drifting from the flock can almost always be avoided.
Perhaps most importantly, if a mirror happens to grace our gathering place for fellowship with believers, we do well to look into it and acknowledge, "Why yes, there is at least one hypocrite in this place!" We all have acted in ways false to our profession of Christ. We seek to avoid such dissimulation by the power of God's Spirit, and no excuses exist for any occasion when our life does not match our testimony. However, no honest believer will fail to acknowledge too many occasions when our deeds, words, attitudes, and demeanor have reflected poorly upon the Lord Jesus. Keeping the focus on the Savior and His grace revealed to all - including and especially ourselves - enables us to find and maintain the proper perspective, and enables us to obey the plainly stated will of God…
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments, as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore."
Weekly Memory Verse
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.