*I have been short on time this weekend so, in order to put something up on the blog, I am going to add a question the members of my my Bible study group were recently asked to think about to something I wrote a while back.
Here is the question:
If your commitment to the church is an indication of your faith in Christ, what does it say about you?
And below are my thoughts for Christians (and there are a lot of them these days) who either have a weak or non-existent commitment to a local church or who don’t think church is something worth concerning themselves with at all.
According to the Bible, believers should go to church regularly so that they can:
- Hear God’s Word taught faithfully
- Pray together
- Be accountable to one another
- Encourage one another
- Use God-given spiritual gifts for the benefit of fellow believers
- Support one another in suffering
- Rejoice with each other
- Commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection
- Serve one another
- Bear with one another
- Offer hospitality to one another
- Love one another
- Demonstrate the power and goodness of Jesus to a watching world
Fantastic reasons to gather together in God’s house, no?
To be clear, sitting in a church building, even if one goes twice a week for decades, doesn’t make a person a Christian any more so than sitting in a garage makes them a car.
Also to be clear, people can become and live as Christians without ever darkening the door of a house of worship.
That being said, the Bible doesn’t a speak of church as if it’s something Christians can regard as unimportant or opt out of, especially if they are opting out because they value their opinion and their knowledge more so than they value God’s Word.
The problem with Christians who decide church isn’t for them is that they are either too lazy to prioritize it into their schedule, which speaks directly to where their hearts are. Or, and this is worse yet, they decide to take a pass on getting up early on Sunday because of the value our worldly society places on independence, self-reliance, self-reflection, and an individual’s supposed right to define their own truths. In fact, it seems a true measure of individual success these days is how well a person is able to live life on their own terms and according to their own rules.
If you are the kind of Christian who believes that the combination of your life experiences along with your entire course of self-study and self-reflection make your opinion superior to absolute and immutable truths, then it’s hard to imagine how you could possibly see the act of gathering together with other believers to be “told what to think” as anything other than a waste of your precious time, energy, and intellect.
If you are that kind of Christian, you have not only ignored the reasons God uses in His Word to encourage the faithful to attend church you have likely so distorted the biblical understanding of what church is that your cartoon version isn’t recognizable anywere outside your own mind. The Bible says: [emphasis added]
“He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind“
– Luke 10:27
Contrary to what some people, believers and non-believers alike, may say, church isn’t about checking your brains at the door so you can be properly trained in Christian groupthink. Church isn’t about hearing a message and dutifully believing it without question. Church isn’t about being pushed into a role of subservience and submission by dishonest overseers. Church isn’t about disallowing members to thoughtfully weigh the evidences and truth claims of a religious system that has stood up to intense scrutiny for more than 2,000 years. Church isn’t about “the Bible says it so it must be true.” And church isn’t about pointing members who “fall out of line” back to the house of indoctrination for more sermons on being a good, obedient, and unquestioning sheep.
I get that there are many people, and justifiably so, who have a distaste for certain organized churches; if that’s you, find a church you do like and start going. I get there are also people who don’t “do church” so to speak but still gather together regularly in homes, coffee shops, bowling alleys, skating rinks, movie theaters, and even bars; which might not look like church in a traditional sense but still is, in every practical sense of the word, church. So while there are a few reasons to exempt yourself from spending your Sunday morning in a building with a sign that reads “Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in Hell”, being too darn smart is not one of them.
Bottom line here is this. If you ever run across a believer who has a particular disdain for God’s people gathering together in a church building on Sunday, and/or is quick to give you a laundry list of reasons why believers should absolutely not attend church; you need to beware.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.”
– 2 Peter 2:1