Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”
Any Christian who makes the absurd claim that they do not need to go to church does not fathom the full significance of Jesus’ words here. For church is not so much the location as it is those members who make up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). For its Greek root—ἐκκλησία (ekkēsía)—means the assembly of believers. Indeed, Christ is always present with us, even in solitude, but as God did not design human beings to be solitary but relational, so Christ did not design the Church to be solitary but relational, for Church is God’s chosen means to come to His people. And so, as we gather together at our local church primarily to receive Christ in Word and Sacrament for forgiveness of sins, so we also gather together to love, comfort, support, and encourage one another.
Consider the example of Christ and His chosen apostles: Christ, when He suffered temptation in the garden of Gethsemane, sought comfort from the three disciples who accompanied Him (Matthew 26:36-46). Also Paul, when he became encouraged at the sight of his brethren (Acts 28:14-15). Perpetual loneliness only distresses us and discourages our faith—I know this, for it is the thorn in my side. In spiritual peril, your isolation from the brethren only shuns Christ. Yes, Christ is with you, but He is even more imminently present with those who gather in His name. Let us, therefore, “not [neglect] to meet together, as is the habit of some, but [encourage] one another, and all the more as [we] see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).