Psalm 119:74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
This is one of the secrets to Christian fellowship: we really do rejoice to see others who are committed to the Lord. The NIV puts the first half of this verse as a prayer, but the Japanese puts it as an expectation. We are indeed stronger when we are together, and that’s why the devil tries all he can to separate us. He certainly delighted in using COVID for that purpose! In some places, churches still aren’t meeting! All the masking also fed into that, because our faces are the most identifiable part of us, and covering them creates all sorts of psychological barriers. However, that effort to divide us is nothing new. Even in the 1st Century the writer of Hebrews felt he needed to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) Some people see church attendance as an obligation, when it is a privilege and blessing. It’s not at all that worship services are all or even most of our “Christian” activity, but it should be a joy indeed to gather with like-minded brothers and sisters to worship our Lord. Sadly, that can go by the wayside when churches get large and impersonal. Every believer needs to be part of a small group where we really get to know each other and participate in each other’s lives. That said, if done right, there is an energy to larger gatherings that can be powerful indeed. Rock concerts display the energy, but not for the right purpose! We need to recognize the gifts and the tools God has provided us and make full use of them, building one another up as it says in Hebrews and giving glory to God.
Ministering in Japan, I’m not much used to big gatherings! That said, it has been a joy recently to see attendance increasing here, and I really look forward to the Pastors Conference that has been put off to June this year. This is actually something I have had to learn, because I am by nature an introvert, and tend to feel like if I have my wife, I don’t need anybody else. God in His wisdom gave me one of the most outgoing, socially connected wives you could imagine, and 53 years of being with her has taught me a lot! Now, I do rejoice to see others whom I know wait in hope on the same Lord I do, and our fellowship is sweet. For the past few months I have ended each Sunday with a glow of gratitude for all the blessings of the day. It is indeed a joy to see brothers and sisters who put their hope in God and His Word.
Father, thank You indeed for the privilege of gathering with Your children, Your disciples. Thank You that I’ll have that joy today. May I be a joy to them as well, as I focus on You and worship in spirit and in truth, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!