Family or formality: Why do saints assemble?
by Lucas Necessary
Lucas Necessary published this article on Facebook, Friday, October 21, 2016. I have reproduced it here, as Facebook requires a login account, which means not everyone can browse to the original article.
I used to think that we assembled "for worship," but interestingly Paul says, "let all things be done for edification." (1 Cor 14:26) In fact, never does God describe our Christian assembly as being something done "to worship Him." But back when I thought that He did, I saw the assembling of the saints as formality, not family, and I have to be honest—that view was destructive and hampered my ability to serve Christ with my life.
Anyway, God never says “worship service,” or “Bible class,” but He does use some very interesting terminology that I think apply to the assembling of the saints: equipping, being mended, being fully trained, and being made complete.
|Sorry, zero Bible results.|
One reason that we assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ is for, "the EQUIPPING of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Eph 4:12-15) The word "equipping" here is from a Greek word, "katartizo."
This basic word is also used when Jesus was walking in Matthew 4:21, He said, "Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, MENDING their nets; and He called them.” (This time katartizo is mending.)
That makes sense. Edification is "building up," and certainly assembling with my brothers and sisters does that for me! But it also mends the spiritual and emotional wounds that I get throughout the week, like net (as a fisher of men) that has been beaten and battered.
That's still not the end of the story, though. Assemblies always featured "instruction," and often we are "able to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14). In that sense, Luke 6:40 used "equipping," and "mending" a little differently, saying,
"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been FULLY TRAINED, will be like his teacher." Being equipped as saints is the same thing that Jesus describes as BECOMING FULLY TRAINED." (This time katartizo is about training.)
And I think there’s a reason for the above paragraph, too. Although our assemblies these days don't feature much more than a bunch of people listening to one "smart lecturer," early Christians "each had a psalm, a teaching, a revelation." (1 Cor 14:26) I imagine that this really did help them become fully trained, and that training (in a non-hostile environment with spiritual family) probably helped them much more effectively spread the gospel.
I guess I'll end with one other thing that I noticed. Equipping, mending, and being fully trained lead to one other use of the very same word:
"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you BE MADE COMPLETE in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor 1:10) (And this time katartizo is about being made complete.)
When we assemble and do all things for the building up, we are being made complete. And all these things, then, are a lot more enticing than a mere checklist of things that we have to do to "keep God happy." As we are all members of the body of Christ, we all have different functions. In your own body, an eye is important, and so is a leg, though they serve very different purposes. Christ's church is the same way! As we assemble together, we have more people with various talents, and we truly start to be made complete!