While we can easily make the case for relationship with God as a priority idea in our thinking about worship, relationship with one another must be incorporated as well. Now, this gets interesting because we sometimes seem almost apologetic for the fellowship aspect of our local church ministries.
I can remember my student years when every church activity seemed to require a devotional component or it didn’t count as a church event. You know, pause the music and lights at the roller skating party so our youth pastor can preach to us for a few minutes. Once, we had to stand and join hands in a restaurant (30 of us) and sing the doxology as our pre-meal food blessing–that way everyone in the restaurant would know we were a church group.
Couldn’t we have just prayed at our tables or been content with skating to Christian music and holding hands with the especially cute fellow believers? Why the apology for “just fellowship?”
In both the Old and New Testament, one of God’s clear agenda items in our worship is relationship with one another. Certain sacrifices and all of the feasts were built around community engagement. Jesus pushed us together as well when He said that “where two or three” of you are together, His presence and the whole idea of Church would be in evidence.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a God who reveals himself as three-in-one would have strong leanings toward relationship. In fact, Jesus’ priority command–love one another–was seemingly more us-focused than Him-focused. Indeed, some scholars believe that the so-called Greatest Commandments were just one command and the means of obeying it. So, Love the Lord your God by loving your neighbor as yourself.
Ours is clearly a God of community. In both testaments He sought to establish one–Israel and the Church. These so-called “families of God” would be the means and the method of His self-revelation.
So, how is relationship with one another demonstrated in our worship? Do we act on the behalf of others as an expression of obedience? Do we purposefully sing together and pray together because we are trying to grow in our relationship with one another as well as with God? What else might we do in community that could be offered as worship?
It’s clear from the Bible that our love for one another demonstrates our love for God, so how can we think of connecting as solely relating to our guest hospitality on Sunday mornings? We should be growing in connection with one another as well. Those pot luck dinners from the past that we giggle about today may have really been achieving something. We are designed to be a family of followers and we can almost argue that without one another, we can’t fully worship God.
Biblical worship always includes a friend.