Saturday, February 9, 2013

Massey Shepherd on the Importance of Corporate Worship

In our modern Western culture, with its prevailing philosophy of individualism, there is a widespread notion, even shared by many professing Christians, that a man who absents himself from the corporate worship of the Church harms no one but himself.  But such a conception is just the reverse of the early Christians' approach to worship.  Separation from the fellowship meant separation from the Body of Christ.  Without each one's participation, that Body was dismembered of a necessary limb, and to that extent its unity was broken and its vital force impaired.  In a comment upon our Lord's saying, "he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad," an early Church manual of worship and discipline put the matter this way: "Since you are the members of Christ, do not scatter yourselves from the Church by not assembling.  For since you have Christ for your head, as He promised, do not be neglectful of yourselves nor deprive the Savior of His members, nor rend and scatter His Body."

Especially in the Eucharist was the oneness of fellowship in Christ exhibited in all its fullness.  It was not a rite performed by the clergy on behalf of such individual Christians as felt disposed to make the effort to attend.  It was the common action of all the redeemed children of God, in obedience to Christ's command, to offer and present themselves, souls and bodies, as a living sacrifice united with and conformed to their Lord's uttermost oblation of Himself on Calvary.  Only thus could they, the Church, realize in supreme degree that which they were called and sanctified to be by their baptism into Christ - namely, members one of another in Him.  Lest the unity of this offering be impaired in the slightest measure, it was their custom to take the sacramental gifts regularly to every member  unable to attend the common gathering - the sick and those in prison for their profession of the Name of Christ.  And this was done, too, with the additional risk of detection by the police and further attacks of persecution. For such dutiful devotion one with another the martyrs "loved not their lives unto death."

1 comment:

David said...

Thanks for posting this Bryan... Met him when he came to Signal Montain, Tennessee years ago...