It’s likely that because of our lengthy time away from each other, we might feel the sacrifice of gathering together more than we have in the past. What kind of sacrifice exactly? There are at least 3 kinds:
1) The sacrifice of preparation–It takes great preparation to arrive on time and be spiritually ready to worship. This means we shouldn’t wake up late, try to shove some food down our throats and then drive like a madman to church. We should prepare the night before by planning on getting plenty of rest and/or setting our alarm to have enough time to get ready before leaving the house. This entails eating the right amount of breakfast so that we are not distracted from hunger pains during the service nor are we feeling the tiring effects as if we ate a breakfast buffet. Furthermore, we would do well to pray and read or listen to the passage and maybe even warm up our voice in singing.
2) The sacrifice of engagement–I’ll speak much more on this next week, but there is certainly a sacrifice involved in interacting with all types of folks in the body. But that difficulty should never stop us, because it didn’t stop Christ when he chose to love us by dying for us while we were sinners and helpless enemies (Rom. 5). And it doesn’t stop Christ now, even when we sin against him. Yes, they may be some times when we feel emotionally and relationally drained after interacting with the body, but God will always make sure we have his strength to do his will. On the other hand, if we are unwilling to engage or committed to self-protect, that will lead to a joyless and wearisome life.
3) The sacrifice of participation–There are no spectators in the body of Christ. As mentioned earlier, we don’t come just to listen to and watch a show. No, we are active in prayer as we pray along with what is being prayed, we are active in singing (as in Eph. 5 and Col. 3) and we are active in listening to the word read and preached.