By Irvin Himmel
Christians are not expected to be loners. First, we need the help of, and constant communion with, the Lord. “For none of us liveth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:7-8). Second, we need each other.
Please consider the emphasis which the New Testament places on togetherness.
Jesus taught, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). The presence of Jesus is not contingent on the size of the gathering, but rather that the gathering is “in His name.” The Hebrew writer admonished, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another. . .” (Heb. 10:25).
Mutual edification strengthens and fortifies. God wants us to come together. Deliberately staying away from the meetings of the church is a symptom of selfishness and self-centeredness. Our presence is needed, not to boost a preacher’s ego or to swell the attendance merely to have larger numbers, but for our own good.
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them” (Acts 20:7). The first-century disciples did not partake of the Lord’s supper in solitariness; they came together to break bread. When Peter was released from prison, “he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12). Although one may pray in privacy, as other examples clearly show, it is appropriate that we pray together. The fact that we are to teach and admonish one another in singing indicates our coming together to sing (Col. 3:16).
Our attitude toward worshiping together should be that expressed by the psalmist, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Ps. 34:3). There is beauty and inspiration in our blending our voices in praise and being of one heart in expressing homage and adoration to God.
Paul taught the saints at Philippi to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1 :27). Too often Christians are found striving one against another. A spirit of divisiveness hinders our efforts. Some who are quick to label others as having a “party spirit” are themselves quite partisan in certain views which they champion. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1).
Striving together means working and fighting shoulder to shoulder against the common foe. It means contending together for the faith “once delivered” to the saints (Jude 3). For this to be a reality we must “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). It is to be regretted that petty squabbles and personal clashes prevent our closing ranks in the battle against wickedness. Some had rather sit on the sidelines and take potshots here and there than to work together with courageous brethren in striving for the faith of the gospel.
Certain people follow one religious standard and others follow another. There is always confusion in a congregation when some adhere to one rule and others give attention to a conflicting concept. Paul said to the Philippians, “. . . Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (Phil. 3:16-17). To be “followers together” of Paul means imitating the same model. To follow Paul is to follow Christ, for the apostle insisted, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Followers together of Paul are not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). Followers together of Paul come not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring the testimony of God (1 Cor. 2:1). Followers together of Paul learn, in whatever state, to be content (Phil. 4:11). Followers together of Paul endure persecutions and afflictions (2 Tim. 3:10-12). Followers together of Paul fight a good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7). Followers together of Paul do not covet anyone’s silver, gold, or apparel (Acts 20:33).
Being Caught Up Together
The faithful in Christ who are living on earth when he returns will have no advantage over the dead in Christ, because “the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Think of it! The dead in Christ are raised up, and they, along with the living in Christ, are caught up together to meet the Lord and be with him forevermore.
Together, God’s people worship, work, struggle, weep, rejoice, suffer, and go home to eternal glory. Together, we shall praise him for ever and ever!
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