We live in an age where information of any sort can be easily obtained, whether its factualresearch for a paper, the latest episode of your favorite TV show that you missed last week, you can just stop by some website or launch some special app and get what your looking for pretty quickly, or just type something into a search engine and get instant information overload on any subject/topic. The same can be true when it comes to church as well, with some churches hosting an “internet campus” or broadcasting their service live over the internet or TV, or even offering a recording of their service via cd or downloadable podcast. And of course you can download your favorite worship music from your favorite Christian major recording artist via sites like Itunes or Amazon music, or in some cases maybe even the worship band at your local church has put out a CD or MP3 Album. Take that combined with the fact that you can even find online/digital copies of the bible in almost any translation in almost any spoken language, as well as some study tools, you might find yourself pondering the question: “Why GO to a church service” ? …I mean really, if you can find solid (or sadly even not so solid) teaching and you can find the worship and everything else online, why bother going some place? Is there actually a point or reason in gathering with other believers? is there even anything beneficial to be gained by not just doing your own thing?
This is an idea /question that I have been going over and over with in my mind for sometime now, being that I have had a difficult time finding a church that is both Doctrinally pure and accurate as well as culturally relevant without driving several hours out of my way. I am well aware of many churches around the country that have services that I can watch online or get a video podcast of, I could literally “go to church” without ever leaving my home or seeing another human being. I could even give my tithe and offering without even having to cut a check or stamp and envelope.
The thing is though…its NOT the same, there truly is this great and wonderful dynamic at play when the body of Christ comes together, in person, when there is human contact and words are exchanged between one another. I look for more than just a nice comfy chair from which to spectate a well orchestrated service, I look for somewhere that I can participate and be encouraged, where I can get that “Iron sharpening Iron” experience. Something that in the anglicized Greek would be called Koinonia, or “communion by intimate participation”. Now I know that in the Church most of the time the word “communion” is used when referring to that ceremony in which we give special reverence and remembrance to what Christ did with his life and sacrifice on the Cross, with the bread (the body that was broken) and wine (the blood that was shed) (or in 99% of American Churches , grape juice). But the communion I’m referring to here is from the Latin communio which translates as “sharing in common”.
That my friends, that is the key, its that Koinonia, and to be honest its not just something I personally feel a need for, its something that is absolutely essential to being a Christ follower. I love the word picture of a bed of hot coals, if you take a group of coals, get them nice and white hot and keep them together they are useful, they stay that way for a while and you can use them for things like cooking. But if you were to take 1 coal out of that group, set it aside, especially in a nice open, breezy, and cool place. You would see that in comparison to the other coals that are still grouped that one cools down rather quickly, and even if it didnt, it still has nowhere near the impact and usefulness it had when it was with the others. It’s still a coal, and for a while its still a hot coal, but it’s nowhere near the same as it was before it was removed. It seems to me, from my understanding of the bible that we are to be like those coals, and that without each other, with just our own “thing” we can never achieve that.