Is worship physically present with the body of Christ essential to being a Christian? Is bodily gathering together to worship with Christ’s people crucial and a requirement as you understand Christianity? Does a person have to obey Jesus Christ in order to be a Christian, in order to have any hope of seeing the kingdom of God and not eternal perdition?

Or, for you, is Christianity primarily about a “personal experience?”

Surely, does not Christianity entail a life, a path in which Christ Jesus is King, a pathway that obligates us to obey His commandments?

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

In I John and Colossians, specifically, the authors are writing to churches that are being devastated by a new religion, a blending of Christianity with paganism. They urgently appeal to Christians who are being subjected to teachings that were importing pagan ideas and beliefs into the Christian faith as false teachers were re-framing the significant aspects of what it means to be a Christian.

Gnosticism entails religious beliefs that regard evil as resident within created things and that views true knowledge to be the possession alone of those who have received secret, spiritual insight.

Being Spiritual, Gnosticism de-emphasizes any commandments which are transcendent and are moral or concern the body. For example, as long as you feel close to God, you will be forgiven of your all sins, (today referred to as “brokenness”). Gnosticism denies original sin and total depravity—it teaches that life is the mastery and unlocking of the inner good and finding one’s personal happiness. To receive grace is to feel good, rather than living obediently. Jesus came to unlock your potential, not to save you from eternal hell by causing you to follow him.

I am amazed, but shouldn’t be, at the amount of churches and leaders who seem to have made embodied congregational worship optional, not just for the first two months of COVID-19, but seemingly indefinitely. The belief that a personal experience at home is just as good as gathering (and risking sickness and inconvenience) in person in a building or place.

The Video Venue home worship is simply not church. It may have been deemed a good and necessary option for a time, but it is not a replacement of the embodied congregational gathering required of Christianity. Video Venue/virtual worship, taken to its logical conclusion, is a replacement of Christianity. It says that I do not belong to the body of Christ, my presence is optional, The Pastor/guru comes to impart in my life good feelings and principals for living. That is enough. It is individual and autonomous. Just me and my personal Jesus.

In this my personal safety becomes the chief virtue of my life. It is scary to go to church. It might upset my emotional balance. My personal inner comforts are what matters. Don’t tell me otherwise; that is legalism and hurtful of my Holy, in-corrupted feelings.

I fear that the COVID-19 virus is becoming an occasion for apostasy into Gnostic self-worshiping paganism. It is a revealing of how many “confessed Christians” do not have the category of the necessity of embodied worship gathering with the body of Christ, in obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandments as King. Their religion may be closer to the Gnosticism the apostles of Christ encountered in the first century. It may not be Christianity.

Hebrews 10:25 warns against this: neglecting of the congregational gathering. I John warns against disobedience and not loving the brethren. I Corinthians states 5+ times that “when you gather” as the church.

When is the gathering of the church for worship ever entirely safe? It may not be safe, but it is sacred. The assembly is a time set apart by a Holy God to worship in Spirit and truth, preaching and proclaiming King Jesus in all of His glory (Col 1).

The Gospel Declares that Jesus Christ came bodily. He came to redeem all of us. He lived and died and rose again bodily, not merely spiritually. There is no separation of our feelings towards Jesus and our actions in obedience towards him and our good works of love towards others. He calls us to gather and worship him as He directs in His word. This is both faith and repentance. In exchange we receive the assurance that he grants to those he loves who are obeying Him.

 Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

[August 7, 2020]