Sunday morning. The alarm goes off sounding like the whistle on a freight train. The sun peering through the trees just landing above your nose as you struggle to peek through your tired eyes. The cool air blowing in through the old window box fan causes you to cinch the covers a little tighter. The sound of birds chirping ring through the air sounding like an orchestra playing just for you. Ahhh, I could lay here all day. But I cannot. I must get up, get everyone ready. I have to go to church.
I slowly make my way through the rooms, waking kids as I go. They mumble, maybe grumble a little and if I walked away they drift back off to sleep. Never giving it a second thought. “I’m tired, it’s early” the cries ring out. “I know” I say softly “but it’s time to get up, get ready, and head to church”. Then, like a team of synchronized voices the cry rings out “Do we have to”. And my response is always the same “Yes you do”. Though I hope in my heart that only for now. For now they “have” to go. For now I need to set the example and I need them to understand how important church is to our lives as believers. Whether it’s a large church or a local home church. Time with fellow believers is very important to us as followers of Christ.
The word tells us that “iron sharpens iron”. I pray that one day “have” to will turn into “desire, want to”. As they continue to grow in their faith, this desire should grow as well. A yearning for the word will begin to replace the yearning of the flesh. But, if I’m being honest, I struggle with this “Do I have to” moment at times. And I often ask myself “So do I have to”? What if I said no. No I don’t have to.
Wait. Where is this going? Am I saying that I don’t believe you have to go to church. Ehh…not exactly. But as I’m sure most of us have had, we all will have a moment of questioning “do I have to.” Maybe I will just sleep in today, maybe spend the day at the beach. And you know what? That’s ok. Yup, I said that’s ok. But why do I say this? What do I mean that’s ok?
Church has to be more than just what I do on Sunday morning. It has to be more than just a building. More than something I do maybe once or twice a week. The word itself means to assemble. To come together. This should be a desire that I have as a believer. To meet with fellow believers. My salvation and my relationship with Christ is not dependent on whether or not I show up on a Sunday morning. That is something to be determined between you and the Lord. Only He knows your hearts. But Church needs to be more than just a feel good moment for us. I don’t believe church is something I do, rather it is something I am a part of. In Matthew 16, Christ says “I will build My church”. And you know, I want to be a part of that. If I only go to church because I feel as though I have to, I will only distance myself from the body. I may even grow to hate the idea of going to church.
So what am I saying? Am I telling you to skip church? No, not at all. I am saying you need to be the church. You should want to be a part of this assembly. You should want to be a worker for the builder. I need to have a desire to meet and remember my Savior, worship him corporately, give generously, and rejoice and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We will all miss a Sunday, maybe two, maybe three. But don’t let church or “going” to church become a chore. This will not define you. Your heart and your actions will define who you are as a believer. If you are only going to church because you feel you “have” to, you may be at a point in your relationship with Christ that you need to have a conversation. Pray to Him and ask Him to give you that desire to assemble. The desire to be with His church. We all “have” to pay our taxes, and we know how much we enjoy that. I don’t want to “have” to go to church.
“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…” – Hebrews 10:24-25
~ Tim P.