Summary: Unlearning the Church seeks to present the reasons the early church had church meetings.
UNLEARNING CHURCH MEETINGS
Welcome back to our Unlearning Series. There are so many things that we have learned in life that keeps us from following Jesus in a healthy way. For three weeks the Lord taught us on unlearning our proneness to hide, and to easily pass judgment on others. Last week we focused on what Jesus said about His church and its purpose. The church reveals Jesus in the world; The church proclaims the Word of Christ to the world; The church is to be filled with the joy of God; and the church is to be united in love.
Today, let us look at church meetings. We will ask the question, why do we go to church meetings?
Reasons and Excuses. I have been following Jesus since I was 18. I remember missing a Sunday church meeting only once or twice. As pastor I have heard a lot of excuses, good ones, classic excuses, unique ones, some for the books, others are just funny, and most are ridiculous. Some excuses are legitimate. Some excuses would make me want to jump and praise the Lord. Do you remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. Two of those who avoided to help were on their way to a church meeting. They excused themselves from helping because of their temple obligation. Let me say this, that was a wrong reason to be early. It could have been better to come late, or to not come to the meeting at all, while you are ministering to someone, leading them to Jesus, sharing God’s love. Then the following week you could have brought the person and introduced that person even closer to Jesus. Perhaps you are just too tired to get up early on a Sunday or Saturday. You need that extra sleep. You just can’t stand anymore. May be one is dying. Or a kid is so sick and needing care and attention. Mostly in Hong Kong, it is being required to work on scheduled church meetings. (Most of you have only a day free during the week). I heard someone who can’t bring himself to a church meeting because he has no money to give to the offering. Someone did not have his favorite cloth washed. Another excuse I heard recently was fear of getting wet. The SARS outbreak gave some people another reason to miss a church meeting. Others point to their family responsibilities as reason to not attend church meetings.
The most challenging reasons are those who say I can worship God alone. They like to point out to Jesus’ words that you are to pray alone in your closet. That is a gross misunderstanding of what Jesus meant.
Others don’t show up in church meetings because they have been offended by one or two members of the church family. Coming to church meetings would mean they would have to see the person which they would rather not see.
So why do Followers of Christ meet together? Why do our brothers and sisters in China, Laos, in Burma continue to meet in basements, in forests, in unlighted homes – even when they are in danger of torture, punishment, losing their jobs, ridicule, censure, or even death?
The first reason we find in Scripture why Christ’s Followers meet together is to experience God together. We meet together to experience the presence of Jesus - to listen to Him, to be touched by Him, and be healed by him. (See Luke 5)
Luke 5:15 Yet despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. (NLT)
Luke 6:18 They had come to hear him and to be healed, and Jesus cast out many evil spirits. (NLT)
Acts 10:33 “So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Jesus said where His people meet “in his name” that meeting will experience His presence. True Christ is present everywhere, but Jesus’ presence in a group that meets because of him is different. In this meeting Christ becomes the head of the body and the body experiences the head.
One person I read who missed a church meeting is disciple Thomas. He earned the moniker “doubting Thomas” because of a statement he made. He refused to believe that Jesus was alive when his friends told him they saw Jesus come to their Sunday night meeting. He insisted he must see Jesus himself, see the nail marks in his hands, and put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand on his side, only then will he believe. The reason was simple. For some reasons, Thomas was missing that Sunday evening. Had he been there he could have experienced Jesus himself. Jesus showed up that evening. He spoke to the disciples. He strengthened their faith. He revealed His glory. Thomas missed all of that. He could not be in the same page as the others. He missed the presence of Jesus.