It is Saturday night, and my wife and I are just about to tuck our second batch of kids into bed. Yup, that’s right, our birth children are all grown up now, and for some crazy reason, we’ve adopted three more and are fostering a baby. This now gives us the privilege of repeating to our younger kids (ages twelve, ten, nine, and one) much of what we taught our older kids about the joy of gathering Sunday mornings as a church.
This past week I asked them to give me a name of someone they would really like to meet. My nine-year-old daughter Kayla quickly piped up and said she would love to meet Taylor Swift. I asked her if she thought she would sleep much tonight knowing that tomorrow Taylor Swift would be coming to our house for breakfast. Of course, this was hypothetical, but it led to a lively discussion about what it would be like meeting her.
He Meets with Us
I then talked about us going to church tomorrow as God’s redeemed people to meet together with someone far greater than Taylor Swift. I reminded them that although we cannot see him, God is present by his Spirit when we gather corporately on Sunday mornings.
Imagine this, we get to meet with the Creator of the universe when we gather together as his people. The One who spoke and worlds were formed, the One who breathed and life was born. He is always with us, but when we gather as his people, he meets us in a special way. God tells us that when “two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). Ray Ortlund, talking about this verse, says the Lord isn’t saying, “If you show up, so will I.” He is saying, “If you gather to be with me, I’m already there, waiting for you, ready and eager to be with you.”
When we gather for corporate worship, God our Father is already waiting for us, eager to be with us, to bless us, to remind us of his great love for us, all because of Jesus our Savior. He is a generous King, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. “He does not deal with us according to our sins nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him” (Psalm 103:10–11).
He Is Already There Waiting
This is not how we often think about our heavenly Father as we prepare to gather for worship. We are usually more aware of our sin, or our present circumstances that have become bigger in our eyes than Jesus. This happens when we fail to remember that the cup of wrath that should have been ours to drink has already been drained by Jesus our Savior. The cup we have been given to drink is running over with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
All sins — past, present, and future — have been dealt with once and for all. Jesus “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). So, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
This should fill our hearts with joy and anticipation as we think about gathering. This should fuel our desire to lift our voices in praise to him.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. (Psalm 103:1–4)
We should be blown away that our great God is already waiting for us to gather. He will speak to us through his word, and remind us of his faithfulness in spite of our faithlessness, and encourage and strengthen our hearts, and continue to reveal more of his glory. This fresh glimpse of Jesus will fuel our passion to live in such a way that gladly reflects back to him the radiance of his worth.
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