Christopher from “Life With Da Man CD” has hit the nail on the head with his post “The Question of Fellowship.” (By the way, Christopher, being from the other side of the pond, you may not understand good English. Here, “hitting the nail on the head” means you wrote something just right.)
As you might guess from his title, Christopher’s post is about fellowship… you know, that word in the Bible that, when realized, makes our life full of people and their messes and disorder and love and laughter and tears and joy and pain and blood and sweat and tears. It’s the stuff we have with one another and with Jesus Christ when we truly get to know each other (including Jesus). (1 John 1:3)
So, Christopher says that when we get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, fellowship is very important. He writes:
The experience of sitting in a seat (standing at the appropriate bits) as part of row of other people sitting in seats (standing at the appropriate bits), and looking up at a group leading singing and then some dude or dudette talking at me, before being dismissed seems to miss this purpose pretty significantly.
Am I edified by seeing the bulk of the work of it done by a group of others? Well, actually, yes. Yes I am. The songs can be moving and uplifting. What the dudette has to say can be stirring and stimulate the passion for following Jesus Christ. I am edified. But … and here’s the thing … I can get all that at home. I can. I do, often.
The aspect then of MUTUAL edification and fellowship requires a lot more engagement and interaction than a lot of experiences provide. And just because it’s the way it has always been done, and just because attendance is the measure of spiritual commitment in some places, that does not mean we’re living any better lives as a community through these experiences.
As you think about Christopher’s words above, let me add this. Most of us would agree that we can’t just listen to the radio and get what we need to grow and mature in Christ (even if the radio preacher is right and good and godly). Similarly, most of us would also agree that we can’t just watch a great preacher on TV and get what we need to grow and mature in Christ (even if all that stuff I said about the radio preacher). Again, most of us would agree that we can’t get what we need to grow and mature in Christ by listening to a great podcast on the internet (even if all that other stuff).
So, why do so many feel that they can get what they need by listening to someone else in person? It doesn’t work that way. That’s not the way that God designed us to work, and it’s not the way that God works in and through us.
Like Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:16, if we want to grow in unity and faith and maturity, then it takes the whole body (the WHOLE body) working together. Period.
That’s not something you can “phone in” or “tune in” or “sit and watch.” And, it’s not something that you can get someone else to do for you.