Treasuring the privilege of our return
Dear BPCWAians, We have returned to church for more than 2 weeks now. It is a privilege that Western Australia has before many other states, and in a way that enables us to come back in full attendance. Since then, have you given thought about how easy it is to lose the opportunity to worship and pray together to God in His house? And how quickly we can also lose all these again? What should we learn about being able to attend church physically and what we ought to do after what we have gone through?
Treasure the privilege. It is always a privilege to be invited to someone’s house. Do you consider coming to church a privilege? Our Living God calls the church His house, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1Tim 3:15). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1Pet 4:17). While we worship God in spirit and in truth, the local church gathering is in fact coming to the house of the Living God. God has chosen that the New Testament Church, His house, temporarily replaces Israel. And He has ordained that this universal Church be made up of true believers in local churches, which are to be planted throughout the world (Acts 2:8). We need to learn that this physical gathering, while commanded in Heb 10:25, is a privileged honour God bestows upon His people. Learning the theology of the universal and local church must translate to how we think and respond to the local church. When we do so, we will truly treasure being able to come together in BPCWA as an honour to be found in the Living God’s house! God called His house the house of prayer in Isaiah 56:7, and our Lord Jesus reiterated God’s house as the house of prayer (Matt 21:13). Do you see it as a privileged invitation to be able to pray together to the Living God in His house? Someone may have the privilege to be invited to a country’s Presidential residence, but it does not mean he will have the honour to speak in person with the President. With this perspective, let us no longer drag our feet, feel pressurised, and consider it a chore to come to God’s house. Only when we have a high view of God, will we have a high view of being found in His house. Our joy must not be just be due to being able to see one another again. It must first and foremost be because of the great honour given to you to be invited to come and be found in the house of the Living God.
Do not take for granted the privilege. Having not been able to come to His house for almost 3 months, we must learn to treasure the privilege we used to have before the shutdown. And if we treasure it more now, what should we do? Would you have expected that a medical situation, a virus in society, could have necessitated the closing of the church doors? Having seen how unexpected, yet how easy it can be to be prevented from coming, we need to not take the privilege for granted. We take things for granted because over time, we assume that it will always be there. We also become so accustomed to a good thing that we take it lightly and presumptuously. And we become ungrateful and unappreciative. Often, it takes losing that something or that someone to awaken us. How can we respond better, having gone through the COVID-19 shutdown? For a start, when you sit down in church, close your eyes and consciously take the time to pray and to thank God that you can be present in His house. Yes, we are glad to see each other, but let us not forget why we can be in God’s house. Thank God for what He has done to move the hearts of the WA leaders to allow us to return in this way. Thank Him that we have enough space in church to come back together. Quietly but consciously offer up grateful prayers to God that you can be found in His house. Also, pray for peace and for the government regulations to continue to allow us to enjoy this privilege. Pray for a solution to the medical and social situation around us and the world. The situation is very fragile. Things can revert to a shutdown very easily. Do not become complacent. But pray for these not because you are seeking a healthier and more peaceful society as the end goal. Instead, it is so that we can continue to have the privilege of being in God’s house. Do not lose sight of this. The purpose of praying for the government is so that we can practice and live out our faith, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, andgiving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1Tim 2:1-2).
Having lost the privilege of being found in God’s house so suddenly recently, let us learn to treasure it now that it is restored. Let us always give thanks, with more sincerity, and stop taking for granted what we have now. You and I show that we truly treasure the return to the house of God, when we pray for it.
Yours in our Lord’s service,