There are many in our world today who feel that attending worship is unnecessary. They believe that one can worship God in the solitude of their own homes. We see this played out by the numerous television services offered to us every week. Furthermore, there are also some who hold to the notion that organized religion is an outdated institution. The belief is that we can each experience God in our own manner, and that we can’t be bothered with the burden of having to attend worship every week. Why is this the case, and is there validation for this way of thinking? More importantly, what does the Bible tell us about the matter?
Our society today has no doubt contributed to this mindset. As the years progress, we are encouraged to become more and more independent. Despite our constantly growing cities, we have become more isolated than ever. Think about where you live. While you might be in close proximity to your neighbors, how many of them do you actually know? From the time we are able to talk and walk, we are urged by our parents to be as self-dependent as possible. This self-dependence and isolationistic mentality that rules our society has unfortunately crossed over into how religion and worship are viewed.
One example we have of the blessing of being able to worship God comes from the book of Ezra. The Jews had been exiled for seventy years and thus had been unable to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Given permission by King Cyrus of Persia, many of the Israelites returned to Jerusalem. Interestingly, their most pressing concern was to reestablish the means for them to worship God and secure the city. Once the foundation of the temple was laid, some wept and others “shouted aloud for joy” (3:12). These individuals knew what it was like not to be able to worship God, and thus realized what a blessing it was to do so. This shows us just how important it was for the Israelites to gather together and worship the Lord correctly. It is equally important for us today, and it's even a commandment (Hebrews 10:25). So as the church today, let us not take for granted our ability to assemble and worship. Instead, let us gather together as the body of Christ and gratefully worship the God of our salvation.