As I sat at the kitchen table talking with a friend, she said to me, “Why do you have to go to church every Sunday? Can’t you just pray at home?” I thought about it for a moment before I responded.
“I want to go to church. It isn’t that I HAVE to go to church. I GET to go to church.” I responded.
I am not sure that was good enough for her, so I began to reflect on that very topic this week. Today in the book of Psalm I found this…
Psalm 50:5-9, 17 “Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.” Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge. “O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.
I would equate this scenario to something like working out. We all know it is good to have some kind of workout regimen. Maybe you like to walk with a friend every day. Maybe you walk your pets. Maybe you bike with your family on the weekend. Maybe you just have a time of day that you workout. Whatever it looks like, in order for you to be faithful to your body, you plan out a time to exercise. If that is broken for any reason – like bad weather, injury, or vacation – I am sure you find it hard to get back on track. Your body begins to suffer by gaining weight, a change in metabolism slowly happens, and/or flabby body parts start appearing. I am sure you all know what I mean.
This is what happens to our faith life when we don’t discipline ourselves to go to church. All of the sudden we slip into selfishness. Here are some excuses I have used:
“I don’t have time today because I have too much to do around the house.”
“My kids have games today so I cannot make it to church.”
“I am on vacation. I don’t want to go to some new place I am not familiar with.”
We have all kinds of excuses for why we cannot attend church, but just like the Psalm says above, “for you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.” When we do slip out of the routine of our faithfulness to God, then it becomes habitual. When we make up excuses for not going to church, we are offending God. I love God so much and the one way I can show that to Him every week is by going to church. I can share in the love that hundreds of other people feel too. When I leave church I feel a spiritual high, not because of what happened during church, but because I am surrounded by so much love under one roof. It is an amazing high.
In church every Sunday, hundreds of people show up to profess God’s name. These people are hypocrites, sinners, liars, and doubters, but they all have one thing in common – they love God so much that they arrive at church each Sunday to pray to him. I like to think of church as the place I can go where we all share our humanness and ask God to show us His light. Church is a community of believers and for one hour we all gather together – away from society’s crookedness – and pray that we can do better; that we can be more Christ-like in a down-trodden world.
In response to my friend’s question, I go to church because I am safe, at peace, and reminded that God is present even in the dark times of life, but most importantly I go to church out of obedience and love for Him.