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, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV)
I know. Church isn’t always riveting. People at church can often act in frighteningly unchristian ways. Sometimes the music doesn’t appeal. Sometimes it’s difficult having to be nice to people you feel awkward around. Perhaps at times you feel pressured to do more than you feel you can do … committees folks want you to join … so you just stay home to avoid having to say no. Maybe your pastor seems tired or too busy for you. We can find a ton of reasons to stay home from church. Truthfully, no matter how great a church is, it won’t be perfect. If we’re of a critical mindset, there will always be something to criticize.
Due to frequent military moves, Ray and I have been active in 15 churches during our married life. Each one has been unique and special. Not one has been perfect. But whether we were staying in an area five months or five years, we always found a church home and participated. I am so glad we did. We love our current church home passionately, and Sundays are a joy. But even if they weren’t, we would still attend somewhere. Always. And here’s why.
1) Our verse in Hebrews commands us to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. One of the ways we hold onto our faith and honor the One who is faithful is to identify with others who believe as we do. Even the act of driving away every Sunday morning tells our neighbors that we value God enough to forego other weekend choices like sleeping in or catching up with yard work. We want to offer God a “time sacrifice” and spend His day with others who love Him and share the hope we profess.
2) Hebrews tells us to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let’s face it. We need spurring. If left to ourselves, we can easily become self-centered, thinking only of our own desires. When we mingle with others who are different from us, we learn to love as God loves. When we learn of needs in our community, we are spurred to serve and help through good deeds. We aren’t naturally nice. We need help. Church helps us remember our calling as Christians to love and serve. Plus, gathering with others ends up being a whole lot more fun and rewarding than staying home anyway.
3) Even back in the early church, Christians had to be warned about not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. Our natural laziness can pull us from the good habit of setting aside a day to worship and honor and spend time with God. I want my weekly attendance at church to be a firmly established habit. I want this to be a consistent rhythm in my life investing one day out of every seven, meeting with other imperfect people just like me, and acknowledging the One who made us, loves us, saved us.
4) Besides, going to church isn’t all about us, is it? It’s about encouraging one another. When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we entered into a new family, and now we have family obligations. We all share the honor of being able to call the God of All … Father. Wow. As brothers and sisters, we are supposed to encourage each other. A kind word on a Sunday morning, a hug in the parking lot, a compliment or a question that shows we care … can make all the difference in someone’s life. I love being encouraged. Who doesn’t? And it feels awfully good to encourage others, too.
5) The days are dark. Our culture is headed away from a biblical worldview. If we immerse ourselves in popular TV shows and movies, we’ll find ourselves moving away from God’s good truths. In times like these, just like in the times of the early church, we need to step up our church attendance, all the more as you see the Day approaching. If a time of persecution comes upon us, we’ll need the strength and faith and hope of others enabling us to stand firm, fully committed to the God we chose to follow, fully surrendered to Him. How can we show love and compassion for others if we aren’t reminded often of God’s love and compassion for us? We are forgetful folk. We need the reminders of what is right and kind and good, especially as the Day of Christ’s return draws near.
So … let’s be faithful when we feel like it and when we don’t. We are blessed to live in a time and place where the gathering of Christ-followers is allowed. Let’s gladly state that He is worthy of our time and attention, worship and honor, by showing up in collective adoration each week. Let’s choose church.
Father, give us eyes to see Your good purpose in calling us to a rhythm of worship. Help us to say with David, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”* Teach us, use us, humble us as we gather each week for Your good purposes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
* Psalm 122:1 NIV
Originally written and published by Sharon Gamble of Sweet Selah Ministries.