IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY

Some have the image of Almighty God as a bearded old man who drifts around the heavens resting on a resplendent throne, while His servants – the angels carry out eternal duties at His behest. This is so different to the consistent pictures that portray Him as a very busy Being. Endorsing that reality, our Lord Jesus Christ states for our benefit that, “My Father is always at work.” (John 5. 17). He came to show us the attributes of our heavenly Father and He did so in the course of His ministry (John. 1.18). We do not serve a God who is ever idle. Would we want to do nothing eternally? How boring!

God is at work in the life of every Christian who seeks to find out what pleases our Lord. We need to understand how “God works in you both to know and to do his good will” (Phil. 2. 13). Our Lord made a significant statement (Heb. 2. 12), indicating the sphere of His operation. He does not work in isolation. While our Father in heaven uses angels to convey His will and to enable us to accomplish His purposes, He works through the assembly. Participation in congregational activities is essential.

When God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt to deliver Israel from bondage, He described His people as a special people, a holy priesthood (Exod. 19. 5). Moses was not sent to deliver Israelites from active service. We sing many hymns that focus on being “a worker, not a shirker” for the Lord. In every field we consistently find that labour is essential if there is to be a reward at the end of the day. Jesus also demonstrated that God never intended to turn us loose to “do our own thing.” He is the Captain of our salvation and He leads as our Shepherd “from the front,” as we see even in any sport.

In every area of life and profession preparation serves with a goal. Perhaps a tragic aspect of our technological age is that means are sought to eliminate hard work. Students these days go into some college that should equip them for a particular profession. They frequently fail or find their tertiary study inadequate to produce stable and productive results. Building a successful congregation involves similar commitment. The apostle Paul stressed essential working together with God (1 Cor. 3).

We are taught to help one another with a goal in mind – towards the maturity and fullness of Christ (Eph. 4. 15). This is best achieved when we have fellowship with one another. No man is an island, and this explains the need of religious affiliation. Notice the spotlight on encouraging one another as members through fellowship. Our absence from an assembly plays into Satan’s schemes and destroys. The only example from idleness, inactivity or isolation is being a bad and unproductive example. Instead, let us seek unity in action – not “unity in diversity!” In that way God is glorified, we are edified and the community as a whole can achieve so much, as the Spirit can do (2 Cor. 3. 17, 18).

In Christian love,
Andy Jooste.