In a 1917 Ladies Home Journal article, Teddy Roosevelt offered his reasons for attending church. One of the reasons he gave was as follows: "Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one's own house, just as well as in church. But I also know as a matter of cold fact [that] the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself. If he stays away from church he does not spend his time in good works or in lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper."
How many times have you heard an avid fisherman, camper, boater, or golfer say, "When I am on the lake (or on the golf course, etc) on Sunday morning, I feel I am closer to God than when I am in a church building." This sure sounds good and it appeases the consciences of those who fish or play golf, but is it true? Can a person forsake the assembling together of Christians for worship and go fishing or play golf on the Lord's Day, but still have confidence that he has communed with God?
He can if partaking of the Lord's supper is not essential to communing with God in worship. Jesus told his disciples, "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:29 NKJV). We are told that Christians in Corinth came together on the first day of the week and, when they did, they took the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11: 17-34; 16:2). If it is as our Lord stated that - He is present when his supper is taken - and that Christians came together on the first day of the week to partake of that supper, can a person go fishing or play golf and properly commune with God (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16)?
A person can forsake the assembling together of Christians and still have confidence that he has communed with God if the singing of praises to God with the brethren is not essential. In Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, we are told that Christians were to sing to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The reason was twofold: to instruct one another and to praise God. However, there is another who is present when assembled Christians sing praises to God. In Hebrews 2:11-12, where the writer is referring to Jesus, it is written, "For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 'I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You'" (Hebrews 2:11-12 NKJV). Jesus is present when Christians gather together to sing praises to God.
This Sunday, many will be on the lake or golf course and some will try to justify themselves claiming they are communing closely with God. However, on Sunday, our Lord will neither be on the lake nor will he be on the golf course. As faithful Christians will come together to take the Lord's supper and sing praises to God, the Lord Jesus Christ will be with them, just as he has said he would be. Where will you be?