Why Do We Gather?
At the very beginning of the Bible, Abraham ascends Mount Moriah in obedience to God’s request to sacrifice his son. God spares Isaac’s life and because of that, he names the mountain Jehovah Jireh or “The Lord Will Provide.” (Genesis 22:14 ESV)
Jehovah Jireh is only used once in scripture, but it might be my favorite name of God. It’s a name I repeat often and the name I pray to daily. Every year around this time, I begin praying over what God wants to teach me the following year. Last November - God continued to press His name, Jehovah Jireh, on my heart. I had no idea what 2020 would look like, but God wanted me to remember His faithfulness throughout scripture and to me. That no matter what happens - the Lord will provide.
Praying to Jehovah Jireh, helps remind me that provision is a characteristic of God.
Have you ever been in a place where you are lonely and discouraged? When Jesus seems far away and you feel disconnected?
You are not alone.
To be quite honest, there are weeks where I feel that way every single day. Loneliness is the Devil’s quicksand and he clears a very straight path to it. But God is so faithful. Just like He was faithful to Abraham, He provides us a way out - a bridge over the quicksand.
It can be hard, in times of loneliness, to identify those provisions. As Jesus ascended into Heaven, He left His Spirit with us. That Spirit immediately started multiplying the church. And in Acts 2:42 (ESV) it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
In a moment when the apostles had just lost their dearest friend, Jesus, they could have easily turned to isolation and allowed sadness to overcome them. However, they took a different approach - they allowed the Spirit to do what He does best. Move.
The Holy Spirit gave them the church. They could have succumbed to the quicksand of loneliness and discouragement, but the Spirit was their guide to community. The church is not a physical place, but a literal body of believers, a group of friends, their community. A community that they spent time with, ate and prayed with.
We gather - not because of our culture, or the importance our family places on the table and having dinner together. We gather because it’s how the Spirit designed our hearts to be filled. When two or more are gathered - God is there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20 ESV) For when we gather together, we strengthen our community and community fosters love. This gathering of community is God’s provision in times of loneliness and discouragement.
Hospitality* is a key hallmark of the Christian faith and a mature relationship with Christ. It calls us to put aside selfishness and convenience and serve others. However, it can seem like a daunting task to invite others over, clean off the table, and get in the kitchen - a place most of us find intimidating.
But what if we used this season, a season where most of us find ourselves isolated and lonely - to reclaim the table and the idea of gathering with people. Humans have an innate desire to gather and food is the natural vessel that brings people together in our society more than anything else.
Jehovah Jireh is providing. He provides opportunities everyday to overcome loneliness, discouragement, and disconnect with community. He gives us the desire to gather. When Jesus wanted to impart wisdom to His disciples, He didn’t give them a book to read or a theory to memorize, he gave them a meal.
Let’s not wait. Let’s love others, connecting our hearts with them around the table while being vulnerable, sharing our lives with them. Let’s gather.
*I get asked a lot about what hospitality means because it is a very “churchy” word. To that, I answer, yes it is! Why? Because it is a paramount characteristic of the Christian faith and is an unnatural characteristic for humans. Knowing that - it is a discipline we cultivate through serving others. We see hospitality throughout scripture (Genesis 18:2-8, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Isaiah 58:7, and Luke 19:5-6) and put plainly - it’s the gathering together that makes hospitality important to Jesus. Throughout the gospels, hospitality is defined through the pattern of communing with people and sharing fellowship, support, and love. So what does hospitality mean? Gathering together and showing love to everyone.
Looking for more ideas on how to live with a heart of hospitality this season? Check out our entire selection of hospitality articles in our devotional library. You can also learn more about how to gather in love this season here.