Not Assembling Ourselves For Worship Is Not Healthy
By bro Peter Kwan
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the local authorities imposed a ‘circuit breaker’ (CB), which is a cordon sanitaire implemented as a preventive measure in the country on 7 April 2020. With the CB in place, the church could not assemble together at the church’s premises to worship our God. On 26 June 2020, the authorities relaxed CB measures for Places of Worship to resume congregational and other worship services starting at 50 persons at a time, subject to safe management measures. Unfortunately, we still cannot physically meet as “singing” praises to God, which is one of the essential acts of worship, is not allowed under the local authorities’ safe management measures.
There is great joy when we get to sing praises to God in an assembly. God is listening to us when we are focused on what we are singing. Not only do we get the benefit of singing praises to God (Ephesians 5:19) and giving thanks (Hebrews 13:15), we are also teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16) with the words that we sing. When scriptural songs are sung that have a great message, they can encourage us and cause us to think more about righteous living. God does not care how our singing skills are; God is concerned with what is coming from our hearts. When we understand this, it will help us find great joy in singing praises to God.
God has given us certain things we are to do collectively. The Lord’s Supper is one act that is to be done together in the assembly of the local church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:33). Giving or taking up the collection is also to be done “on the first day of every week” when the church meets together (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). We are to pray together in the assembly (Acts 4:23-31). Teaching and preaching are also done (Acts 20:7). All these are activities in which we have the benefit of participating when we assemble with the saints.
We should also consider Jesus because His sacrifice made the church possible and the Bible teaches us that He is with us when we are gathered together. We are in fellowship with Jesus when we worship God. Knowing Jesus is with us when we assemble with the saints and that we make up His body, the church that He purchased with His own blood (Ephesians 5:23), it should cause us to feel honoured and full of joy when we assemble.
Assembling with the saints is an important duty that we are commanded to do so that we might encourage one another:
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Encouragement is reciprocal. We assemble in order to be encouraged by our brethren, but we do not simply attend for our own benefit. Through our attendance and participation, we can also be an encouragement to our brethren.
It has already been several months since the members have assembled together at the church’s premises. During one of our virtual gatherings, Brother Paul Lim lamented that it was not healthy for us not to assemble together physically. There are definitely limitations for the community of saints participating and interacting during online singing, in acts of worship and in bible classes. One brother said he felt isolated after so many months of not seeing brethren face-to-face. A Barna research survey on “Covid-19 online church attendance among practicing Christians” has indicated that 32% of them have stopped attending church. This is a worrying trend and we hope that the pandemic will soon blow over and we can assemble once again.
Every member of the Lord’s body is significant, so it is important that we assemble and value each other as one in the family of God. The apostle Paul said in,
1 Corinthians 12:20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Every Christian is important and each has their function in the body of Christ. As Paul says, we are to care for one another, and we are to take note of those who are suffering and those who are being honoured so that we can either suffer with them or rejoice with them. We certainly cannot do this if we neglect the assembly.
From time to time, there will be visitors who join in our assemblies. We should also be mindful of our visitors because they can tell whether a church is a loving one that reflects the love of God. Opportunities do present themselves here. Knowing that we can make a difference in a visitor’s life that may lead them to salvation should cause us to rejoice.
David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), serves as a great example of a person who loved to worship God and found great joy in doing so.
Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD."
David and those with him arrived before the appointed time and waited with anticipation to enter the house of God. This is the same attitude that we have sorely missed due to the pandemic. Our worship to God is a privilege and an honour. It helps us get closer to God, and we should love being around those who are likeminded and who strive to be pleasing to God. Every Christian should have the same enthusiasm and joy that David had when it comes to worshipping in an assembly.
Finally, the more we assemble with the saints, the more we are honouring God and counting the many blessings that God has blessed us with – it will make us stronger in the faith. Healthy connections in the assembly have been established by the efforts of brethren since the Eastside congregation was formed, and these help us to carry on devoutly and to grow spiritually (2 Peter 3:18) to please God in this present crisis. We will remain focused on our goal of getting to heaven. We need all the help we can get to motivate us to combat the temptations of the world.
The New Testament is filled with commands on how we are to treat one another.
Here is a list of the “One Another” commands in the Bible:
Things that begin in our hearts
Be at peace with one another – Mark 9:50
Love one another – John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12
Be of the same mind toward one another – Romans 12:16
Show tolerance toward one another – Romans 15:1-5; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13
Be kind and forgiving to one another – Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
To benefit our brethren and others…
in times of need…
Be compassionate with one another – 1 Peter 3:8
Rejoice or weep with one another – Romans 12:15
Admonish one another – Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Build up one another – Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Greet one another – Romans 16:16
Give preference to one another – Romans 12:10
Esteem others as better than yourself – Philippians 2:3
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Confess your faults to one another – James 5:16
Accept one another – Romans 14:1; 15:7
Things that may be more difficult to do, but Christ showed us it is in fact possible
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Receive one another – Romans 15:7
Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
Submit to one another – Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5
Be truthful with one another – Colossians 3:9