Churches and Christian ministries have a tendency to adopt kitschy and punny names. It was predictable that, moving into the year 2020, every second church would have a conference or event playing on the idea of 20/20 vision. (My church was no different.) The joke was on everyone. No one had sufficient 20/20 vision to predict a worldwide pandemic preventing churches meeting in-person for the better part of the year.
That is exactly what happened, of course, and, as the months dragged on, there was a growing longing for a return to corporate worship. During those months of lockdown, the elders of my church began sending daily devotionals to the members. The motivation was to keep truth before people. Without the ability to gather, it was important to use every opportunity to remind ourselves of God’s truth. Lockdown provided unique temptations to fear and despair and it was necessary to speak truth to ourselves in a more intentional way than ever until we were able to gather.
Asaph understood this reality. As he penned Psalm 73, he was confused. He looked at the world around him and observed prosperity for the wicked and poverty for the righteous. In short, “the wicked” were always “at ease” as they “increase[d] in riches” (v. 12). Asaph complained that he had maintained a right standing before God “in vain” (v. 13). Trying to reconcile these truths seemed an exercise in futility, until—
What made the difference? What moved Asaph from disillusionment and cynicism to hope and faith? “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end” (v. 18). Corporate worship made all the difference. As he gathered with God’s people for worship, his perspective shifted and his hope and trust were restored.
Asaph understood that he never needed corporate worship more than when it didn’t make sense. It was precisely when his faith was at its lowest that he most needed to gather with God’s people. Corporate worship gave him perspective and stripped him of cynicism.
I’m sure that most of us hope that 2020 is a year never repeated in our lifetime. We would love for it to be relegated to a footnote in history. That one year provided us ample opportunity for disillusionment and despair. We never needed corporate worship quite as much as we needed it then.
Brothers and sisters, have you recognised your desperate need to go into the sanctuary of God? Have you recognised your desperate need for the gathered worship of God’s people? If lockdown created in you a sense of cynicism, despair, and disillusionment, you desperately need the your perspective reshaped in the context of corporate worship.
We were all profoundly thankful that the possibility of corporate worship returned. Personally, it was hugely encouraging to see the vast majority of the membership at my own church embrace corporate worship afresh. It was also sad that some chose not to prioritise worship.
What about you? Do you recognise the life-transforming power of gathered worship? Even as you struggle to make sense of everything that unfolds in your life during the week, do you allow your perspective to be shaped in the context of corporate worship? Your cynicism and disillusionment will persist until. Will you make until a prioritised reality in your life?