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"And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (NASB)
There is a danger of equating worship with what we do during a service and church with what we do at a building. Neither is true. Please don't dismiss what I'm saying as a meaningless distinction, it isn't. When we say that worshiping God is one of the five purposes for our lives, it would be easy to boil that purpose down to attending church, then check off the blank and say, "one purpose down, four more to go." If we do that, we are making a huge mistake, because thee is so much more to worship than what we do during a service and so much more to church than what we do at a building.
In his book, Emerging Worship, Dan Kimball writes, "The average person is awake 112 hours a week (assuming he or she sleeps eight hours a night). If a person goes to a weekend worship gathering that lasts two hours, then 98.2 percent of their week is not in a weekend worship gathering. To most people, 'church' involves only 1.8 percent of their time. The rest is supposedly not 'church.' This is pretty crazy because in reality you and I and other Christians are the Church 100 percent of the time." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Imagine what a victory it is for Satan for us to believe we are only the church 1.8 percent of the time. I don't consider myself a poet, though I have published a few pieces over the years. Around ten years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Our God Remains," which illustrated Satan's strategies for hindering the spread of the gospel. One stanza dealt with the lies he tells to the wealthy, another the way he deceives the down and out. The third stanza focused on this very tendency some in the church have to limit worship to a building. Let me read it to you: "The sheltered believers feed their souls,/enjoying their salvation./Huddled in their sacred shrines,/they study the power of God's might./Satan has paralyzed them,/imprisoning them in their own buildings./With their minds on the stories of old,/they miss the fields of white."
Our weekly gatherings are essential. They are important enough that God shows up! Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (NASB) Notice this is a conditional promise. We must be gathered in His name, but if we come for the right reasons, He comes too.
They are important because God shows up and they are important because we give and receive encouragement when we gather. Hebrews 10:25 says, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (NASB)
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