Journey 4 The People of God

Day 7: The Assembling of Ourselves

You’re part of a story.

You see that, don’t you? It started a long time ago—back before God the Father and Jesus Christ even created the first human being. They began with a plan: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

And so They did. Through the Word—that is, through the One who later came to earth as Jesus Christ, the One who made all things (John 1:1-3, 14)—God “created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

But the story doesn’t end there. Adam and Eve, the very first man and woman, were created in the image of God, but they were incomplete. God made them physical, temporary creations with beginnings and ends. They may have borne a resemblance to God, but they weren’t spirit like Him. They didn’t think like Him. They weren’t immortal, all-powerful and all-knowing like Him.

There was, in other words, still work to be done.

As we’ve made our way through these Journeys, we’ve learned a lot about that work. We’ve talked about who God is and what He ultimately wants for us; we’ve looked at what sin is and why it’s so dangerous; and we’ve explored His feasts—a road map of His plan to rescue humanity from itself and build an eternal family imbued with His character, His power and His incomparable glory.

That’s what this is all about. It’s what the holy days picture, it’s why the Church exists, and it’s the reason you exist—to be made, truly and completely, into the image of God. To join His family as His child. To experience an eternity without pain or death or sorrow or crying—an eternity we can’t even begin to wrap our tiny human minds around.

You are part of this story.

But, as we noted at the beginning of this Journey, you are also at a crossroads. You have a decision to make, and what happens next is entirely up to you.

You’ve been given a precious treasure. Not everyone yet sees what you see; not everyone understands what you understand. The God of all creation has opened your eyes to His priceless truth, not because you are special and deserve it, but because He loves you and has a purpose for you.

The world around you is deceived and blinded by a malicious being who wants to see God’s plan come to nothing. Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been convincing the world to redefine the concepts of right and wrong, never realizing its own desperate need for God’s guidance and deliverance.

You can see what they can’t. And when the time comes—when Christ returns and the enemy is bound and the veil is removed—God wants you on the team that will help guide the entire world into a relationship with its Creator.

But not yet. Right now, you’re imperfect. You have your own flaws and shortcomings, just like the rest of us—and before God presents you to the world as one of His children, He wants to refine you. That means bringing you through the process of repentance and baptism while giving you the strength for a lifetime of wrestling with and overcoming your own human nature.

Hence the Church. You have something to contribute to the body of Christ, it’s true—but the body also has something to contribute to you. It is, after all, “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies” (Ephesians 4:16), which means you can’t get everything you need on your own. That’s not how being a Christian works.

The Church is a source of strength and wisdom and community for the followers of Christ. Each member brings something valuable to the body, as Paul notes: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

When all these gifts come together as God intended, God’s people can blossom and grow exponentially—because the Church, when it functions correctly, is a beautiful thing.

And it’s necessary.

In many churches, it’s not uncommon to see attendance swell around Christmas and Easter. During the rest of the year, though, attendance becomes a little more optional. Church becomes a thing people do if they have the time. If they’re not too busy. If there’s nothing better to do.

If they feel like it.

God asks a little more of us than that.

When He revealed His Sabbath to ancient Israel, He explained, “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:3, New International Version). Since ancient times, God’s Sabbath day has been a time for His people to come together and worship Him—to step away from the world and focus on the things that truly matter.

Contrary to popular belief, the need to assemble didn’t end with the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews encouraged the Church to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

In an earlier passage, he made it clear that “there remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). The Greek word translated “rest” is actually sabbatismos, which doesn’t refer to a normal rest, but a Sabbath rest.

God never made “the assembling of ourselves” optional. He never made His Sabbath day a matter of choice. To follow Him—to count ourselves among His people—we have to start by following His instructions. But coming together with fellow believers isn’t just an arbitrary command—it’s absolutely vital for us as well.

Imagine what would happen if the Church didn’t come together every Sabbath. Thousands upon thousands of faithful believers each fighting his or her own trials, each struggling to resist Satan and striving to obey God—each of them in isolation, separated from each other. No encouragement. No support. No guidance or comfort or compassion—just thousands of Christians doing their best to follow God on their own.

That’s not what God wants. Jesus explained, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). When God’s people come together on His weekly Sabbath and on His feast days, they’re able to draw strength from God and from one another. They encourage and uplift each other; they help each other stay focused on their common goal of the Kingdom of God; and they share in fellowship and conversation and learning, reminding themselves of where they’re going and why.

If these Journeys have connected with you, the next step is to do something about it. God calls us to take action—not sit still.

If you are ready, the Church is waiting for you.

Further Reading

What’s Next?

From here, you have a few choices. Download our Change Your Life! booklet to learn more about how to live God’s way of life, or read Welcome to the Church of God, a Worldwide Association to learn more about who we are. You can also head straight to our list of Congregations to contact the minister of a congregation near you, or contact us directly through our Ask a Question page. We look forward to hearing from you!

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