How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Mine are going quite well, actually! While I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I have set two new goals. First, I’ve resolved to decrease my dessert intake (no sweets on weeknights). Second, I’ve resolved to increase my frequency of flossing (my teeth, not the dance). It’s now January 13, and so far, so good.
Like many others, I’m sure, both of my resolutions relate back to my physical body. Perhaps yours do too; maybe you’ve resolved to lose weight, get fit, or try out a new hairstyle. However, I’d like to challenge some within our church to commit to another resolution; one that relates back to a different sort of body:
If you’ve been totally disconnected from Prairie View’s Sunday morning worship services, I challenge you to resolve to return to your local “body of Christ”.
Of course, there are numerous people in our church who have intentionally stayed away from in-person, Sunday morning worship services for perfectly legitimate reasons. If you’re an older adult, have a medical condition that makes you “high risk”, or are genuinely concerned for your health or the health of those who depend on you, then by all means: use your discernment about when you should return to in-person gatherings. Being at PVCC on a Sunday morning carries some risk with it in our current predicament, so our leaders do not blame you for thoughtfully keeping your distance.
My challenge is more directed at those who haven’t been joining us in-person on Sunday mornings, and also haven’t made consistent use of Facebook Live and YouTube. If that’s you, I challenge you to resolve to return to Sunday morning worship services in whatever capacity is appropriate for you.
As we’ve all learned over these past ten months, if we’re not careful, physical isolation can make us go crazy. Likewise, if we’re not careful, spiritual isolation can lead us into sin. There’s a reason God calls his people together into churches; it’s because followers of Jesus need the encouragement, accountability, and community that a local church can uniquely provide. When we lack those things, we are much more vulnerable to temptation. The Sunday routine of getting up, getting dressed, and going to church may seem tiresome at times; however, it’s for our benefit. Having positive interaction with your brothers and sisters in Christ – even over something as silly as a Facebook comments section – may do you a world of good, and even help prevent you from falling into some dangerous pits.
In addition, God calls us into churches because he deserves to be worshiped regularly. And while sitting on your couch watching Facebook Live or YouTube is not the same as being together, in the sanctuary, hugging, shaking hands, and singing loudly without a care in the world about the droplets we’re producing, worship from your couch is better than nothing. I’m confident God prefers that we set aside time to sit in front of a screen, worshiping him to the best of our ability – with crying kids, technical difficulties, and all the rest – over ignoring him entirely. If God really is who he says he is, there is NO better use of your Sunday morning – and no higher priority during that time – than worshiping God (whatever that has to look like right now).
The Book of Hebrews contains a long and winding argument, showing the supremacy of Jesus over the angels, over Moses, over Melchizedek, and over every other priest who’s ever lived. The author tells us that Jesus has accomplished – through offering himself as the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of mankind – what the Law of Moses could not. Jesus has not symbolically cleansed sinners temporarily; he has actually cleansed us permanently. Because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done, all who believe have been reconciled to God.
And in response to this glorious reality, God’s people have great privileges and responsibilities. This includes “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day (referring to Christ’s return) drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
In short: you need Sunday mornings, and God deserves your Sunday mornings. If you can do that in-person at PVCC, great. If you can’t, do it online (even if it’s less than ideal). Whatever you do, don’t neglect meeting together entirely – for God’s sake, and for yours.
If your New Year’s resolution involves exercise, you’ll likely find that when you haven’t used certain muscles in a long time, they’re stiff, sore, and weak. But with patient and persistent use, those muscles will build strength and flexibility. Likewise, if you haven’t used your Sunday morning worship muscles in a long time, they may be stiff, sore, and weak at first. But with patient and persistent use, those muscles will return to form.
So, if you’ve fallen off the map as of late, resolve to return to your local body of Christ (however you can, given the circumstances). We’ve missed you. You need us. And God deserves your worship.