Let me go on record: I am not a fan of quarantine! I have Zoomed, FaceTimed, and Skyped until I have grown to detest the very words. It is just not the same hugging a television, a computer screen, or an IPhone as it is being close to a person you care very much about. Now having said that, I have committed the “nearly unpardonable” sin of watching livestream services in my sweatpants, with a cup of coffee in my hand, and secretly enjoyed the convenience.
I have a fear that there will be a temptation to yield to the ease and convenience of staying home rather than the command to assemble ourselves. Disclaimer: yes, there are true and legitimate concerns for safety; and for those who are in real danger with underlying conditions, I get it, and in no way am I judging the need or decision for those reasons to stay away from church services. But there is true value in assembling ourselves; and absent real conditions and concerns, we must desire to get back to assembling ourselves together. Remember the omniscient Lord gave a command that is still in effect:
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.—Hebrews 10:24–25
The day is coming when we must make the realization that going to church is not just us being consumers of a product, but us being active ministers of provocation (encouragement)—though I am quite a good provoker in other ways! We can be consumers by staying home and livestreaming whatever church or speaker catches our fancy that day; but as Christians, we have a God-given responsibility to encourage and exhort others in our local church. I would suggest that according to God, that is best done when we assemble. There was already a cultural shift in our world that allowed for what I call a devaluing of the church experience; we must not let the quarantine further that deceptive and dangerous movement. Church matters!
Recently, Nancy and I had an opportunity that was just wonderful. Two of our granddaughters are high school graduates this year. Of course, so many who have worked so hard have lost the traditional joy of a graduation service. Thank God for those many educators and schools who have been so innovative in honoring these graduates in some way! To honor our graduates, we got together and had photographs taken to memorialize their achievement. What a wonderful time with grandchildren and our kids!
While we were in the park taking pictures, someone snapped the photo above of Nancy and two of her grandsons. What a story, the joy being together. Though we had spoken to them by phone, text, and email, there was an unquestionable blessing in being with each other. I do not think anyone, without good reason, would prefer FaceTime to being with children and grandchildren physically, even though the content of the conversation could be the same. I am so glad the Holy Spirit does not FaceTime me but lives within me!
We must be careful not to judge anyone who chooses not to assemble; be understanding of those who take a different view and make a different choice. But let each of us realize that when we are able, there is great value to and satisfaction in assembling ourselves together.