Longing to Be Together
The real and healthy tension you may be feeling as the scattered church
These days are…different.
To say that our current cultural moment is “fluid” is like calling the Colorado River wet. New developments and restrictions are updated every week (day?) and all our regular habits and rhythms have been tossed out the window. Stay inside. Six feet apart. Hunker down. Stock up. Isolate. Pray you don’t get sick.
So what about our Sunday Gatherings?
Now, as the guy who typically stands up in front of you and espouses the importance of gathering together, “not neglecting to meet together” (see Hebrews 10:25) and the unique work being done by the Spirit of God as we are gathered, it pains me to be apart for the foreseeable future. Hearing the voice of the people raised up in song, prayer and Scripture readings does tremendous work at the soul level to “let the word of Christ dwell richly in us” (see Colossians 3:16). These truths won’t change.
How then can we worship together when we’re not physically gathered?
The simple answer? The internet! (I kid, sort of.)
The deeper and more spectacular answer? The Spirit of Jesus.
This is not a Jesus-juke or an over-spiritualized, magical, pastor-trick platitude. This is true! The Apostle Paul expressed it like this,
“For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” — Colossians 2:5 (ESV), emphasis mine
Even when we’re apart physically, we can be “together” in spirit. How? Something I say practically every Sunday is that Jesus unites us. He unites us with God and also with one another. That’s why our worship (i.e. our life) is Jesus-centered. This union is possible only by the Holy Spirit who brings us peace, hope and love (see Romans 5:1-5).
Put another way: Though we are absent in body, we are together in spirit by the Spirit.
Amazingly, all the fullness of the Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit) is working to draw us in and sustain us in Him and with each other by His wondrous grace. Though we can’t gather face-to-face to remind one another of these truths, this pandemic doesn’t cut off all our means of communication. In some ways, it provides us an increased opportunity to lean more heavily into the Spirit of God who points us to Jesus and unceasingly unites us.
So…call someone today. Text, e-mail, send smoke signals. The gospel is still good news! And we need to be reminded of this, especially in the face of many uncertainties.
May our liturgy (“work”) persist in the continual impressing upon each other the magnificent breadth, length, height and depth of the gospel (“God’s powerful work”).
“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” — 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV)