My wife and I travelled back to my hometown of Jasper for a few days this last week in order to visit my parents and to explore the old stomping grounds. We visited the Bear Paw Bakery to get our hands on a legendary raspberry white chocolate scone, we took a bike ride around the townsite, and even had the chance to see the famous Athabasca Falls. It’s a beautiful town and I was blessed to grow up there.
On our many outings, one of the buildings we passed by repeatedly was the old church I grew up attending. It used to be a house that was renovated into a church building, and I spent a good 10+ years walking in and out of it’s doors every Sunday. But as we passed by it again this past week I was reminded of just how normal it felt to attend a church service with twenty to twenty-five people in the room (and that included the six of us Scott’s!). But that was Church. We knew everybody’s name, we knew their life stories, and when we saw each other outside of Sunday we would stop to catch up with one another. We had something that large churches can sometimes struggle to have: a tight-knit community.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure miss the gathering of our whole church family on the weekends – and I’m still fairly new to our church! I can’t imagine how those of you who have been attending Northview for years must be feeling. The large gathering of the Saints is a wonderful thing… but there’s something wonderful about a small gathering of the Saints too.
At this point we’re meeting in groups that max out at fifty (which is still double the size of the church I grew up in!) and who knows, this might be the way it looks for a while yet. So even though we miss the large gathering of our church, we’ve got to ask ourselves just how the Lord might want to use this season for the good of His people. Because, as we know, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28).
My question to you is this: have you seen these smaller gatherings as a unique opportunity to love and serve Christ by loving and serving the members of His body, the Church? Just as my arm is a part of who I am, so too the believers who make up Christ’s body are a part of who He is (1 Cor 12:12). The New Testament will go on to teach us that Christ is so intimately united to the believer that he or she can say that “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The way you treat other believers, is in fact an expression of how you treat Christ.
All across the New Testament there are commands for believers to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2), “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10), “welcome one another” (Rom 15:17), “Love one another” (John 15:12), and many others like these. But they’re difficult commands to fulfill if we don’t even know one another.
With our gathering sizes reduced from what we’re used to, we have a wonderful opportunity to meet some new people, learn some new names, and love the Lord Jesus Christ by loving one another well. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Before you know it, things might change.