What is church for? Why do you go (if you do)? Many people call church ‘the house of God’ and believe they are visiting ‘the big man upstairs’. When I was young, there was great discussion about what you should wear for church – you would dress very smartly if you were visiting the king or queen, so shouldn’t you make an effort for meeting up with the King of kings?
It occurred to me not long ago, that I don’t go to church to meet with God, I go to meet with other Christians. But before you declare me a heretic, hear me out! I can and should be meeting with God at any and every point of any and every day. Maybe I should dress up permanently! I can and should be worshipping God with all my life all day and all week long. It’s not just a Sunday thing. I do, however, go to church to worship with other Christians. There is a dynamic in corporate worship, prayer, teaching and fellowship that is not available to me in my own home, by myself. And that is why Church is important.
Jacob hadn’t quite got hold of this. Genesis 28:17 – He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Because God had suddenly become real there, he thought there was something unique about that place; but God’s promise was that he would be with him wherever he went.
Yet there are places, occasions, people, things that help us draw close to God; that remind us He is here; that make his presence somehow more tangible. Some seek out ‘thin places’; others find an icon helpful; a scripture; a book; a speaker; a song; a conference. These are just aids, for truly, God is here. And in reality, the only thing that stops us from experiencing his presence is ourselves.