When to skip church

“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.” – Hebrews 10:24,25

I was born on Monday December 24th….I was in church on Sunday December 30th…and I don’t think I missed  church until I was 18.  I remember the morning – I had been out late the night before, my parents were away and the house was empty.  I decided for myself – one of the first times in my life – to stay in bed.

Confession time – that isn’t the last time the thought has crossed my mind.

George Barna reports that only 63% of Americans claim to be born-again attended church last week.  He claims further that those who did attend last week state: “they did not experience God’s presence or feel they interacted with Him in a personal way.”  Barna concludes “less than one quarter of all born-again Christians consciously strive to make worship part of their life-style.”

So what’s the problem?

We are too tired…I remember those days…Jason and Philip (5 and 2) and the diaper bag, stroller, snacks…and the fighting to get out the door and to the church…then the responsibilities…the teaching, the nerves, the people who didn’t like kids.

We are unhappy….we don’t like the music, we wish the soloist wasn’t, we don’t like the colour of the carpet, we don’t like the pastor…  (Remember it is a short distance from constructive thought to critical spirit).  We become consumers of church when we are called to be The Church.

We don’t like people…people who talk through the service, sneeze down our neck, feel free to offend us..you get it!

So where have we gone wrong?

Worship needs to be a spiritual discipline.  Focused on giving not getting.  Others may come with a critical spirit but a critical spirit is a short cut to lost blessings.

We need confession – confession of a self seeking agenda, of our pride, of the idolatry of putting ourselves in the center, of neglecting our spiritual growth.

We need to do what Scripture says – to “consider how we can may spur one another on”…to “NOT give up the habit of meeting together.”  The King James Version says “do not forsake”…it comes from the Greek word that means “abandon”.  Meeting together is really two Greek words “ago” and “sun” from which the word synagogue is formed.  It speaks of assembly, of gathering.

There is no Canadian law that says you must attend church…but if I am part of The Body of Christ, if I am part of a community then I need to understand that I am an integral part of the life of that Body.  I have a duty to Jesus – and to others.

One further thought..and this comes from Mark Buchanan.  Zechariah 8:20-23 speaks of a day when 10 men will take hold of a Jew because they know God is with him.

Were the people of God as the people of God should be – if we gathered FOR the reasons we should in the manner we should.  If we loved, carried forth justice, operated in mercy, if we provided for the widow, the orphan, the poor…the fragarance, the taste, the aroma of Jesus would be so appealing then others would gather with us.  Just because “for we heard God is with you.”

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