We live in a world where technology affords us opportunities to do thing quickly and easily, many times with little to no help from others. We have smartphones and tablets that we can use to get the latest information on any given topic, without having to ask anyone. If we want to connect with someone, we can use our devices to do so, and when we call them, instead of just hearing a voice, we can also see them ‘face to face.’ If we want to further our education, we can take online classes (as a student in an online Master’s program, I can relate to this). And if we want to participate in a worship service, we can live stream many churches from anywhere in the world.
Technology is a good thing, but it has the ability to make us think we don’t need to get together with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 tells us “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (NLT).” Since the Word of God is timeless and true, this not only applied to believers during the time this was written, but it also applies to us today. So the question is: in spite of all the advances that enable us to go solo, why should Christians assemble ourselves together? What are the benefits of assembling ourselves together? I’m glad you asked!
As we come together in worship and praise, we receive encouragement from one another, as the verse in Hebrews clearly tells us. Each person has had difference experiences during the previous week, and will have to encounter other types of challenges in the upcoming week. These tests can sometimes cause us to get discouraged, so we are to build one another up as we face them, admonishing each other to “…stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV). Assembling ourselves together is a way for each of us to get the strength we need to face these tests, “for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4, NLT). The encouragement we can receive coming together and sharing with one another is invaluable (having recently experienced this myself, I can totally relate)!
Also, as we come together, we are given opportunities to minister to others. Worship service is not just about what we can receive individually, but also what we can give to someone else. God can use us in unexpected ways to be a blessing to others, and we should always be prepared to minister to and bless one another. Being prepared to minister doesn’t necessarily mean having a sermon or teaching prepared, nor is it just reserved for those who are called to ministry (although every believer has a ministry…that’s another topic for another blog). We should ask God to send us opportunities to be a blessing to someone, and be open to recognize them when they come. They can be things as simple as greeting someone with a smile and a hug (not knowing that your greeting is the first friendly one they’ve received in a while), holding the door open for someone, or offering to watch a baby while mom goes to the restroom. Or you may be called to pray for someone or offer a word of encouragement to a person who’s hurting. Instead of saying, “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” why not stop right then and there and pray for them? What a tangible and real way to show someone you love them and are concerned about them!
Lastly, when we assemble ourselves together, we can learn from one another. Yes we can certainly listen to a sermon or teaching online, but there’s nothing like sitting next to someone hearing the message or teaching and seeing the light bulbs of revelation come on! When we’re in small groups or in Sunday School classes, we have the chance to share our personal experiences, which help us to see how the Word of God manifests in real and practical ways. We can ask questions about what we’re learning (something we can’t do over a livestream) and others can help reinforce the lessons in our minds.
Yes, life can get busy, and technology gives us the opportunity to hear God’s Word wherever we may be. But nothing can replace Christians coming together to fellowship with each other, encourage each other, learn together and pray for one another. So put your electronic device away, get up and go assemble with the saints of God. I promise that you’ll be blessed by the experience and will be able to share that blessing with others. See you in service!