Why does God require physical locations?

Is it not interesting that even in Deuteronomy, God requires physical locations? In chapter 12, he requires ONLY making certain types of sacrifices in specific locations no less than seven times. He also commands destruction of physical idol worship locations- high places in mountians and hills, under green trees, and beside large pillars.

Of course, Christians see this same impulse (if you can say God has impulses) in God's emphasis on the local church. We are called to gather in his name and to not give up meeting together, called to share what we have, called to use what gifts we have been given. Why?

I think, at core, it could almost be called a pragmatism. God calls us to these things because he is glorified in his people, be they Jews in the OT or the redeemed in the NT (revealing my New Cov. leanings here). God's people are more able to bring glory to him through coming together, through the combinations and recombinations of their gifts and skills, and through mutual care and protection for each other on various fronts. Ephesians 4 makes it clear- our sharing of gifts makes us stronger.

We are to be a city on a hill, but as is true of any city, we will only shine if each member participates and accepts responsibility as part of the body.

At the same time, we recognize our severe dependence on the grace of God. Communities of faith, be they large or small, are entirely needy of God's favor for survival. Without it, and without faithful commitment to gospel ministry, they are no better than a bowling club losing members to the local gardening club.

This is probably a piece of why I so enjoy smaller churches. In a church of 50-200 people, you can have true community. People bless each other with gifts, but are not lost in the cracks. They have the opportunity to be a light to the community without devolving into an attraction for the shallow.

At the same time, they are small enough to see their need. They can pray, "O God Almighty, thy sea is so vast and my boat is so small!" and mean it. They can watch the destructive power of sin and know that, "Come Lord Jesus!" is the only hope.

All this to say one thing; commit yourself to your local church. Make sacrifices to contribute. Be there as often as you can. Get to know the members, and fall in love with their quirks and failings (and do not hesitate to make light of your own!). You have no better opportunity to praise your maker than to join hands with fellow believers and display the hope of the gospel.

God loves physical locations, I think, because they force us into the, "warts and wounds," of community, a place where frustration and boredom can run high, but where the friction burns away dross and highlights the beauty and purity of our Father's plan for the world. To that end, then, we must show up.

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