We have a duty, as the people of God, to stir one another up in love and good works, exhorting one another to that end, and the context in which we do that is our assembling together. The primary assembling for this purpose is undoubtedly public worship, but it’s not limited, or exclusive to public worship. Christian community should be gathering together frequently in public worship and in everyday life for the express purpose of stimulating one another to grow in love and good works (the “so much the more” of the thing).
After having been regaled with promises of an exposition of what Christian community does for two articles now, readers of this series on community may well be skeptical that such an exposition, in its most practical terms, is soon to be forthcoming. We’ve been treated to the foundation of Christian community, as well as the necessity of active participation in Christian community. However, we’ve not yet come to treat of that burning question: “what does Christian community look like?” You may be wondering, “will we ever have an answer?” Well, wonder no more, faithful reader. This article and the closing article to follow intend to set forth how that necessary activity founded in our common purpose in Christ is to play out in the practical element of Christian life. In other words, we’ll finally move from the head and the heart to the hands.
Turning once again to the Confession, we read:
Saints, by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification…
Westminster Confession of Faith 26.2
It shouldn’t be surprising given our previous discussion of how Scripture and the Confession conceive of Christian community, that the spiritual element of Christian community would kick off the practical side of its unfolding. The Confession makes no bones about the fact that Christian communion and community is not primarily about simply enjoying one another’s company. Rather, enjoying one another’s company should have a distinct purpose in mind. Namely, the mutual spiritual edification of the saints. We gather together in order that we might build each other up in our most holy faith. Our fellowship is centered around our faith.
Central to our fellowship, the Confession states, is our duty “to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God.” Such a declaration should be common sense to the Christian. After all, the chief expression of our common union to our common head, Christ, and through Him our common Father, is the public gathering together of the people of God in worship. This reality has been the case for the entirety of church history. In Genesis 4, what demarcates the godless line of Cain from the godly line of Seth is the public worship of God and common confession of his name: “then men began to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26).”