There is quite a bit of noise being made these days by those who suggest that gathering on Sundays to “go to church” is simply tradition and totally unnecessary to a Christian. As the culture continues to spiral downward from the effects of a postmodern culture it only stands to reason that what is deemed appropriate by the masses will be brought into question. I believe there are reasons that many have adopted this fallacious perspective.
First of all we have assigned a modern understanding to the word “church.” The ἐκκλησία (church, congregation; Assembly, gathering) in the New Testament is never mentioned as a place or physical location but when we speak in today’s culture that is exactly what most of us mean, we talk about “going to church.” Therefore some perceive us to mean that something supernatural, magical even, occurs when we gather in that place. For some when the magical remedy does not alleviate their woes they can become disenchanted with “going to church.” The word “church” in the Bible always points to the people themselves therefore if a transformation is to occur it does so because of the interaction with the people. This is why Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.”
That fact raises another issue. Gathering at this magic place is not always pleasant. The church is full of imperfect people and they can at times, whether intended or not, inflict pain on the very people to whom they should bring comfort. If we allow the proverb to minister to us we can know that these imperfections are simply jagged edges in our blades. It is when we interact; when we commune we are able to help to smooth out one another’s jagged edges. Sometimes this interaction is not desirable or pleasing but necessary if we are to become efficient at completing the task that God has given each of us.
Finally there is this point that at the end of the day we do not assemble on Sunday to ‘get’ but rather to ‘give’. We are there to worship the God of heaven; to talk to Him, to hear from Him, and to remind ourselves that we do these things because of the example set before us by the apostles (Acts 2:42-47). The New Testament does not instruct us to find cause to separate but to unite. In fact the Hebrew writer told the church at Jerusalem that they should be more faithful about gathering in the most difficult times (Hebrews 10:25). The Holy Spirit has given every believer a gift and that gift is not to be exercised in the privacy of our homes or on the golf course. That gift(s) is to be used for the edification of the church so that the gospel is spread through the entire world. Remember that when you go into the church building you are going to be in the presence of God to commune with “the church.”