As the pilgrims came upon the gates of Jerusalem, they probably started singing this song. And it shows their joy in coming to the house of God.
I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
I remember a time when I didn’t rejoice about going to the house of the Lord. I became a Christian when I was 7 or 8, but by the time I hit junior high school, I really didn’t want to go to church. Not that my church was bad or anything. I just had other things I wanted to do. But when I became a high school student, I experienced the presence of God in my life for the very first time. For the first time, when I was singing worship songs, I realized “God is really here. We’re not just singing karaoke. We’re singing prayers to God.” And it totally transformed my view of worship and of church.
Sometimes Christians think they can live without church. That they’re fine just worshiping God by themselves. Certainly there is a personal aspect to worship that is essential in the Christian life. But there is something wrong with the Christian who doesn’t rejoice at the idea of worshiping with other Christians.
Often times, there are problems of pride. “I know the Bible well enough. I don’t need the pastor’s sermon.”
Other times there are problems of unforgiveness. “Every time I attend a church, something happens where somebody hurts me. I don’t want to go through that again.”
In other cases there are problems with judgmentalism. “All of the people I see there are hypocrites. I don’t want to associate with them.”
And for others, it’s a problem of selfishness. “I just don’t get anything out of church.” But they forget the fact that the purpose of going to church is not simply about getting something out of it. It’s giving. It’s giving praise to God. It’s serving others. And it’s working with others in the church to serve the community you’re in.
The psalmist talks in this psalm of praying for the peace of Jerusalem. For seeking the prosperity of Jerusalem. We need to be doing the same for the cities we’re living in. But there’s a limit to what we can do by ourselves. We can do so much more if the body of Christ is working together for the good of the communities we live in.
The truth is, if all you’re doing at church is sitting in your chair for the entire service and then going home, you’re missing a large part of what God wants for you. Get involved. Start doing the part God has assigned you as a part of his body.
And as the writer of Hebrews put it,
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (10:24-25)