An acquaintance of mine told me he recently visited a church on Sunday morning. He said that during their twelve and a half minutes of “worship” many people went to the back to eat donuts and drink coffee. I couldn’t help but be appalled. My reaction was immediate. What sort of leadership would allow—or, perhaps, even encourage—such a thing to occur? What does condoning such behavior say about our beliefs? They call this worship? I don’t think so!
One of the distinctive characteristics of Christianity is that God is with us. Of course, we know that God is everywhere. The theological term is that He is omnipresent. Yet, the Lord has promised to always be with us and never to leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Psalm 118:6-7). He dwells with His people. You won’t find a promise like that from Allah in the Qur’an. Only the God of the Judeo-Christian heritage has made such an audacious promise.
In the New Testament, though, Jesus took that concept to an entirely new level. He promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). Something special happens when we gather in His name. The risen Christ comes into our midst. Exactly what that means and how it happens, I can’t answer. Honestly, no one on Earth can, with any degree of accuracy. It’s part of the mystery of God. All we know is that He’s there. Jesus didn’t give us the details, but we know He is trustworthy. So if He promised that He would be in our midst when we gather in His Name, then, truthfully, He is there. His presence is just as real as when Isaiah saw the Lord “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). Of course, we likely cannot actually see Him like Isaiah did, but He’s there just the same. He is every bit as real as we gather to worship Him. And whether we “feel it” or not is a moot point. Just like any other aspect of what we believe, it must be taken by faith. He promised, so we trust Him. He’s there.
What do you suppose would happen if we actually acted like He was there?