When We Come Together

1 Corinthians 11:18 "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it."

Sundays are special. There is nothing else like a Sunday. I love Sundays. Two special things happen on Sunday: we praise God and we get to be with our church family. There is so much good that comes from those two things. We are encouraged, strengthened and helped by those two things.

Several times in this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the expression "when you come together." He says that in vs. 17, 18, 33. In vs. 20 he uses the words, "when you meet together." Getting together. Coming together is much more than just sitting beside someone, it is a coming together of spirit, heart and love. You can sit beside someone on the airplane, without the bond of "coming together." Most would rather have an empty seat beside them on an airplane. That spirit is not the same as coming together.

When we come together, we are not all the same. We can forget that sometimes. • Some like me, are up early, energized, excited and bouncing up and down like Tigger.

• Some have been up and down all night with kids and they are dragging. It's a struggle to get the eyes open.

• Some do not feel well. The body hurts and they almost didn't come but they did.

• Some have come with mountains of concern in their heart. A marriage is crumbling apart, a child is a prodigal, there is worry about finances, there is concern about an aging parent. These thoughts weigh heavily upon the heart.

• Some come with shame because of wrong done. Their sins are now known. An unwed pregnancy...fired from job for ethical reasons...lost their temper in the public...others know of their mistakes. They are embarrassed to come.

• Some come with questions and doubts. What they thought they knew has been challenged. They are not so sure.

• Some come with tears in their eyes. A loved one was buried in the past week. Prayers  were  answered  "No,"  and  they feel rejected and disappointed.

• Some are there because they have been pressured by a parent or a mate. They would much rather be in bed, but they came to have peace at home.

• Some are there because nothing else is working in their life. Their life is a mess and they feel that Jesus is the answer, but they are not sure. They show up, not knowing anyone.

Now, when you look at this mixture of people, they all have different needs, emotions and experiences. Some will sing enthusiastically. Some will barely mouth the words. Some drink deeply every word the preacher says, some have question marks in their mind.

We find that the multitudes who followed Jesus were also a very divergent group. Some were looking for help for a sick friend. Some were curious. Some believed. Some were looking for something to accuse Jesus.

This thought leaves us with three observations:

• Not everyone will get from worship what I do. Some will get more. Some may get less. Some may leave shaking their heads in doubt, feeling it has been a waste of time. Some will not want to leave because it was so helpful to them. Same service - different reactions. There are hurting people among us on a Sunday. I need to remember that. I need to realize that not everyone is where I am at. I need to get the thoughts off of myself and think of others. I cannot be the measure of how successful a worship has been. I, alone, do not represent the feelings of everyone.

I may complain, when others didn't notice what bothered me. I may have thought the preacher was long and others not feel that way. I am not the gauge of the successfulness of a worship.

• Shepherds of God's people need to recognize how different everyone is. They must see the congregation as individuals that are each needing different kinds of nourishment and help. One-size-fits-all most often doesn't work these days. Classes need to be designed around the needs of the people who come.

• Preachers need to remember what a mixed audience that they stand before. Some know the Bible well and find it to be great comfort. Others are not so sure. Some have questions. Others have doubts. Some don't want to be there. Some don't want to go home. What a challenge for preachers. Find the right message and find the best way to present it. Find a way to help people become stronger spiritually. There will be some sermons that impact some people more than others. Understand that. There are some who are struggling and need more attention and guidance than others. Jesus always knew where His audience was spiritually. Jesus knew what they needed to hear. We do well to learn from Jesus.

When we come together. What a unique thought that is. We come, from different directions. We come, in different sizes. We come, with different things floating through our minds and hearts. We come. We come because of Jesus. There is a common need. There is a common bond. We all need Jesus. We all need each other.

The Corinthians misused their coming together. It became, for them, a power and position thing. They used it to dominate others. Wrong. They missed it all together. We can do the same, if not careful.

Sundays are special because we all come together.