What does it mean to be ‘in the assembly’? And why does this keep coming up to me?
King David and Job both cried out that, while they used to lead the assembly into praising God, they no longer did. They mourned the day they found themselves no longer among God’s people.
Why does this happen to so many believers? Why does He allow isolation, rejection and pain, even from fellow brothers and sisters in Him? Why does He allow us to be misunderstood, sometimes for many years?
When will we be ‘in the assembly’ again?
Something that’s greatly unsettled me is how unbelievers can gather together and enjoy themselves far more than Christians. They don’t need a particular reason; they just do it! They do life together.
Many of God’s followers seem a bit isolated, even anti-social at times. They wear religious cloaks pretending to have it all together when their reality is loneliness and striving. Why do I have to witness so many try to get real with other believers only to get shot down, as if they are weak or less than for having pain and struggles in their lives? What?
Where is this ‘in the assembly’ reality?
This experience obviously happened to two very great men of God: David and Job, two men God Himself called special attention to because they were men after His heart or men of great integrity, respectively. How incredible to have God say that of you! So why were they such lonely men? More times than I can count, King David cried out to God that everyone was against him, that he missed the days of old when his friends surrounded him, and that many mocked him and even sought to kill him! And not just his enemies… his dear friends, those he says he shared bread and worshipped with!
Is this the life we’ll always experience here on earth? I understand the world’s rejection, but from fellow brothers and sisters… why do I see us rejecting each other?
Why do I witness more camaraderie at keg parties than at church? Why does church time seem so fake far too often? Real relationships… are they that hard to find? I hate watching believer after believer do life on their own, myself included. I want to take them by the shoulders and say You can’t do it honey! I promise!
What is it… our pride? Shame? What blocks us from being transparent? Are we afraid they’ll realize we’re not ’good enough’?
But isn’t that God’s message to begin with?
Where are these assemblies the Bible speaks of? Sure, we have church, but how many are actually connecting at church? How many people attend church each week without talking to anyone, except during the 15-second “Shake your neighbor’s hand” time? I wonder how many post-sermon conversations are genuine? Not surface-level, ‘let’s go to Chili’s', glossed-over weekly updates but real connections?
As a single person, I admit this experience may be intensified. I’ve just found myself struggling with hope lately and asking Is this all life is? All our lives we grew up alongside one other in classes and sports. Yet the older we get, the more ‘contrived’ our image and the more deliberate our conversations. When we finally reach adulthood – the “real world” — we appear to be either too preoccupied or too cautious to truly connect with other people. We may have a few open conversations with a significant other or — in rare moments of ‘weakness’ — a parent or sibling, but overall we keep our distance.
I’ve just been exploring this beautiful city and observing this over and over again, and it’s weighing on me.
Do we know our neighbors – you know, those people who live next door? Heck do we even know our roommates and friends, those people we go out with on weekends? Do we know what they struggle with daily, what they long for more than anything?
I see people post unbelievably personal stuff on Facebook, in an effort to make authentic connections with others! Yet Facebook hardly seems the safest and most effective platform to do that.
We all want transparency, not false intimacy, facades, egos and well-calculated status updates. I believe there’s a reason people Tweet their lives hour-by-hour and post Facebook chronicles of their baby’s first steps: because we all just wanna know we’re not in this alone.
I believe this needs to change.