When God created man He said it wasn’t good for him to be alone. And so it isn’t still, we are made for fellowship. In the book Anatomy of the Soul Curt Thompson asserts that we are made for connection or attachment.
The neuroscience is clear: the concept of a single functioning neuron or a single functioning brain simply does not exist in nature. Without inpout from other neurons, a single neuron will die. Likewise, without input from other minds, a single mind becomes anxious, then depressed, then hopeless and then dies, either by intentional means (suicide) or more passive forms of poor self-care. It is not good for a man or a woman -or a neuron or a brain- to be alone.
He goes on to explain how from birth we are searching for attachment and some develop healthy attachment patterns and some don’t depending on our upbringing and our parents attachment style. This has far reaching affects into adulthood and our relationships with God and others. This has been a fascinating book and gives support to the idea that we need one another.
I’ve been laboring over this post for a day now and was trying to balance what I’ve experienced, and what I practice now with what I interpret to be biblical practices for Christians. What I practice has changed over the years as I’ve changed. Early in my Christian walk I was hungry for Christian fellowship, I wanted to share life and learn how to be a better Christian. I stumbled through relationships but was eager to serve in the church and I did. We were taught that being part of a local church was the essence of living out the Christian life.
Since our church split 3 years ago I’ve been reevaluating what that church taught was necessary for what they called biblical fellowship. There were a lot of implied non-negotiables. Sunday morning church attendance, small group attendance and proper confession and repentance. Even though we preached against legalism there was a subtle form of it.
I have come to realize more and more that so many North American Christian practices are based on tradition. There are New Testament models from scripture but even these are traditional practices not commandments. The only non-negotiable is love.
I have even had to re-evaluate love though. Love can be perverted, and it sometimes was in the church we once attended. In the name of love people were shamed, in the name of love tradition was made law, in the name of love character flaws were nit picked. It wasn’t all bad though, we had some sweet times too, but there was enough of the perversion that I’ve had to step back and look again at what love is. At what love for God and love for others looks like.
Meeting together is a way to express our love of God through corporate worship. Meeting together is a way to encourage and love one another. This is the go-to passage that every Christian who has fallen away from church or small group attendance has been admonished with:
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrew 10:19-25
Meeting together should be to encourage one another. Love one another.
Where and when and how often we meet together though is not prescribed. It’s not something you can require of church members. Different people will have different needs in different seasons of their lives for meeting together. It’s true we can’t live our Christian life apart from others. We need one another to spur each other on, to teach and admonish one another. God is not limited though to a small group meeting on a certain night of the week. He works through my family, the friend I run into in the grocery store, the ladies I meet for coffee occasionally and even my facebook friends who I “see” everyday. I’m surrounded by Christians to spur me on and I have friends I can call or email when needed.
There will never be a season I don’t need others, but there may be times I pull back from or don’t attend the more formal meetings.
What does meeting together look like for you? Do you like formal small group meetings around a theme, or more casual meetings?