As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. – Psalm 42:1-4
Ever feel like the psalm writer? Being isolated from other Christians, whether that be because of circumstances beyond our control or because of our own sinful choices, can leave us feeling lonely. Not being able to worship God in his house with fellow Christians, whether health or work is preventing it or again just because we haven’t consistently made the commitment to be there, leaves us feeling spiritually thirsty and drained emotionally.
It is true that a person doesn’t have to be a member of a Christian church to spend eternity in heaven. Only faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from all sin and hell assures us of that. And it is true that we can read and study God’s Word at home alone and God the Holy Spirit can work through the Word to keep our faith in Jesus strong. However, in Psalm 42 the psalm writer’s experience leads to a question: “If you have the opportunity to worship with other Christians, and if you have the opportunity to join a Christian church that strives to teach and practice all of God’s Word, then why wouldn’t you?”
Don’t underestimate the benefits for your faith and attitude that come by hearing the Word of God proclaimed to you in God’s house. Don’t underestimate the benefits for your soul and mind when you join with fellow Christians in songs of worship and praise to the Lord. Don’t underestimate the value of regularly gathering with like-minded Christians for mutual encouragement and to experience being part of the team that plans and carries out efforts to connect more and more people to their living Savior, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to more consistently be a person who says with King David, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1). Amen.