Many of us have experienced spell of the Yukon. We’ve come, many have stayed, some have left only to return again. There is something about this land of rugged mountains, cool refreshing streams, and abundant wildlife that draws us back. If there is anywhere we could go to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, it is here in the wilderness of the Yukon.
This is especially true this year as we are actually experiencing “summer”. The bright sunshine encourages us to take advantage of the great outdoors as often as we can. I know I look forward to any and all wilderness experiences. There is something special about the wilderness and the beauty of God’s creation that draws us to Himself. One of the songs we sing says, “Up to the mountain we love to go to find the presence of the Lord”. When Heather and I enjoy a few days on a remote river we certainly do sense the awe and presence of God. Perhaps that is why our Lord would go up on the mountain side to pray.
While it is true that the Lord withdrew himself to quiet places to pray, He was equally careful to connect with the people He came to seek, serve and save. He had quiet times in order that he would be strengthened and focused when he returned to the crowds.
We all need personal quiet time with the Lord. That needs to be a priority. We all need to “get away” and find strength and focus in the presence of the Lord. This is a good thing. But we need to be careful that we don’t live our Christian lives in isolation, that our outdoor adventures don’t keep us from coming together as the Body of Christ.
When someone is away on a weekend as part of their personal or family holiday, that is a good thing. However if we tend to be absent on frequent weekends because we want to experience the wilderness, I’m not sure that’s a healthy choice - even if we can worship God in the beauty of His creation.
As God’s people, we are the body of Christ. We are the Church. The word for “church” in the Greek means the people of God, the collective body of believers, the congregation or assembly. The Church isn’t a building or an organization, it is the coming together of God’s people. It is a living group of people who are collectively focused on the Lord. In other words, we don’t go to church, we are the Church. That’s why the writer to the Hebrews says (Hebrews 10;25), “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.”
The Church, the Body of Christ, can not be complete unless we come together. In the early days of the Church, Acts 2 tells us that the followers of Christ met together daily. David wrote in Psalm 122, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” Why? Because there is something unique, something special, and something very necessary when we come together in worship. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Hebrews 3:13 also states, “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Clearly, we need each other to keep us going.
Coming to church will not save you; only a personal relationship with Jesus can do that. However, as God’s people, as a vital part of the Body of Christ, missing an opportunity to come together, to worship together, to learn together and to encourage one another, will be the last thing we’ll want to do.