"You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church."
– Joel Osteen
As we rapidly approach the end of Lent, and Christianity’s most solemn celebration, I invite you to go against the grain of society and proudly live your faith. That could simply mean going to church…or if you’re a regular church goer, it could be inviting someone else to your church.
I chose the topic of church attendance because it seems to be one of the more misunderstood topics regarding faith. I hope to address some of the general commentaries about weekly devotion, give people food for thought, and if all goes well, make a difference in someone’s life.
Let’s look at some of the common stumbling blocks:
“I believe in God, I don’t need to go to church.”
Believing in God is a great starting point; however, the devil also believes in God. Believing in God does not bring you closer to God, anymore than believing in rocket ships brings you closer to the moon. Decide what ‘believing in God’ means to you. If you decide you want to improve your relationship with God, then setting aside time every week to worship Him, with other likeminded people, is a good start. I know for me, that sliver of time every Sunday is some of my best spent time.
“The church is full of hypocrites.”
You may be partially right, and this can be a tough stumbling block, but not going to church because of hypocrites is like not going to the gym because it is full of out-of-shape people. You are going for you, not because of other people. Everyone has their own demons they are fighting in this world. And let us not forget, none of us knows what is in the hearts of others. Throughout the ages, church fathers and theologians have warned against judging others in matters of faith. “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3
Just remember…The church is a hospital for sinners, not a palace for saints. Go get your weekly dose of medicine.
“I am not feeling it.”
The call to honor God is about faith, not feelings. Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. If people quit every time they weren’t ‘feeling it,’ the world would unravel rather quickly, especially the institution of marriage. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. You take the actions of love if you want to experience love, and you take the actions of faith if you want to experience faith. One must train the habit of faith, and strengthen the will through daily prayer, readings, and church attendance. Life is about choices, and choices have consequences. All of our small daily choices add up to big results, either positive or negative.
“I am a spiritual person.”
I am never quite sure what this means, but based on my research, it seems to mean that one is happy with oneself and loves oneself. On the surface that is wonderful because our life is a gift from God. But what we do with it is our gift back to God. Throughout the bible there are numerous scriptural passages addressing the topic of weekly devotion. But on a more pragmatic level, attending church services and reading Christian authors is the prudent thing to do. In all areas of life, wise individuals surround themselves with people who can help them grow in certain areas. For example if I want to sail around the world, I will read sailing books, take sailing courses and practice sailing. Simply stating “I am a sailor” does not make me a sailor. So if you want to grow in faith, spend time with people who know scripture, have studied history, and have devoted their life to the work of God.
In the interest of disclosure, I have to admit that I don’t always feel like going to church. Some Sundays I feel like sleeping late or going out to breakfast. But I can honestly say that I am never disappointed when it is over. I may not always ‘feel it,’ but I have to admit that I have cried more tears of joy, and felt more peace, sitting in those pews, than at any other time in my life.
So don’t slip into the trap of seeking man’s approval over God’s.