Not God. That was never in question. These women love the Lord. But after decades of being in church, they were wondering if it mattered if they went. I so get that. There are Sundays when I would rather sleep in or do my own thing. There are Sundays when we have to attend two different services or even two different churches because of hockey times. Church can be so inconvenient sometimes. Not to mention the junk that can come with church. Seeing the person who hurt you last week with her mean comments. Being accosted by the child care workers to volunteer in the 2s room. Trying to find a seat and having to keep going toward the front because that is where all the empty seats are. And those are the hurdles once you are in the building.
What about those people who have been hurt by the inappropriate actions of pastors or staff people. The believers who have tried to find a church that felt comfortable but keep getting stuck with people who don't understand their decision to not have kids, or if they have kids, they decide to homeschool or even worse, send their kids to public school. What about the people who want to believe in Jesus but cannot get past the visions of the church that see on tv.
So do Christians Need church? Do we actually have to show up on a Sunday morning or can we worship at home? Can we listen to sermons online and be covered for the week? Do we really need to be engaged and connected to a church community?
I don't know. Sometimes I think I am a better christian apart from the church. Not apart from God but apart from the church. Sometimes I find church to be a distraction from God. But that is not because church and corporate worship are the problem. That is because either myself or the community I am in are having a problem.
Last fall our women's Bible study read RC Sproul's book "5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow." In this book Sproul makes the argument that worship, corporate worship at church is important and essential to our growth as believers. He writes,
"He (God) absolutely requires human beings to honor, glorify, and worship Him in the way He commands, not according to the ways we prefer."Hebrews 10:19 - 25 says,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.Let us encourage one another.
Let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together.
Church can be hard. Whenever people are involved things can get hard. We are sinful people and we make mistakes and bring our own agendas to the building. But there is still something magical that happens at church when we show up ready to be with God in His house with His people. There really is. But we have to show up.
We benefit from the encouragement we get form being with friends who are also on a spiritual pilgrimage, people who know us, love us, and are praying for us. We, too, too have the responsibility to encourage our fellow believers. Faithful attendance at worship is one way in which we can encourage one another.I show up at church to worship God. I show up at church to hear Biblical teaching. I show up at church to be among God's children. I don't show up to be entertained. I don't show up to "get" something. I show up because God is deserving of honor and praise. And I show up because I am part of community of believers.
I owe both my presence.