My imaginary cousin, Willie Wally Wishum, sometimes missed the point. Years ago, before he owned a car, he would walk ten miles from his home back in the sticks into town to buy supplies. On one occasion, Sam the general store owner asked him, “Are you still making fires out there by striking flint together?"
"Sure, Sam.” Willie replied. “How else would I start a fire?"
"Got something to show you,” Sam replied. “Something to make fire. It's called a
match. Watch this. You just do this," he said, taking a match and striking it on his pants.
"Well, that's something,” Willie huffed, “but that ain't for me! I can't be walking 10 miles to borrow your pants every time I want a fire."
It is easy to focus on the wrong thing and miss the point. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did. “You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin” Jesus said. “But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).
Might we also miss the point by focusing on the wrong thing?
For most of the history of western religion, our focus has been on the gathering of Christians on Sundays. We have poured billions of dollars into buildings and furnishings designed solely for that gathering. Churches typically devote most of their resources to planning and executing the activities of that gathering. And much of the division and fighting among believers has been about what is done during that time. The focus has been so much on that time that the words church and worship have become distorted in meaning. “Church” to many means a building. And “worship” in common connotation is what takes place in that building.
The right focus, however, lies elsewhere. Surprising to many is the fact that nowhere in the New Testament scriptures is any word that is translated as “worship” ever used to refer to the gathering of Christians on Sunday. Never.
Let me encourage you to read Romans 12 and Hebrews 12:28 through chapter 13. There, you find a Biblical definition of what God intends worship to be. It certainly includes gathering with Christians, but it is by no means limited to that. Nor is the gathering the focus.
You need something to strike the match on, but it is the match that matters, not the pants.