|DO I HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH?
James C. Guy
DO I HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH EVERY TIME THE DOORS ARE OPENED???
We, as Christians, should be letting our "lights so shine before men" that we influence the world more than it influences us. Yet, it is often just the opposite. In our culture, we work longer hours than we should to have more a higher lifestyle than we need. We feel the need to be a part of all the latest and most popular events. We don't have time, are too busy, and too tired to go to church. And even if we did, why should we have to? Why can't we just "have church" at home?
First, it is a matter of priorities. When we choose to put the activities of the world ahead of activities for God, we are saying, "God, I don't have time for you." We may even be saying that when we do come to worship regularly, but have a "worship hour" mindset. Why do we insist on getting out "on time" but nobody complains if we get out early? We are in a hurry to get back to our ‘real life.' Search the scriptures for a "worship hour." There is none. Worship is bowing down before God as the Almighty. When put work, play, visitors, sleep, television, sports, etc. above church services, we are putting them above God. When these interfere with the scheduled worship, do we do everything we can to avoid it, or do we just make excuses to ease our conscious? God knows we need that special time to come together and focus on HIM. That's really the problem. We aren't focusing on Him, but on ourselves. Do you have to go to church? Do you have to put God first?
Second, there is the God designed corporate aspect of worship. A person can worship anywhere or anytime. Some have the erroneous idea that worship is the acts that we do when we come together. Search the scriptures, and you will find no such definition of worship. There are things we do as "tools" of worship, but simply doing them does not constitute worship. Many even leave as soon as the Lord's Supper is served as though that was all God wanted of them. How sad! What a warped view of Christian worship. Worship is bowing down before the Almighty God.
Though we can do that anywhere, the Bible also teaches us that Christians are to meet together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2). We cannot do all God has given us to do unless we meet together (see Ephesians 5:19; I Corinthians 16:2). Neither, can we follow the example of the early Christians in the Bible (I Corinthians 11; I Corinthians 14). To watch a worship service on television is not the same. It is in no way a substitute for God-ordained corporate worship. Do you have to go to church? Do you have to obey God?
Third, the Bible teaches us to worship together in order to encourage the saints. We can't do that at home. Hebrews 10:25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another....." Notice the word is "assembling" not "assembly." This passage has often been quoted as "forsaking the assembly" in an effort to get people to come to church at the appointed times. Even though it does not specifically refer to the appointed worship times, it does not exclude it. Notice the PURPOSE is to exhort one another. When we come together and worship together, we exhort one another (see also Colossians 3:16). What does it say when we miss worship services for avoidable excuses? Not only does it fail to exhort one another, but can even be a "stumbling block" to others which is sin (Romans 14:13). It encourages them to have the same lackadaisical attitude about worship as you have. Do you have to come to church? Should you be a stumblingblock to your brother?
Forth, when we miss the scheduled corporate worship times, we are rejecting God-ordained leadership authority. Is God pleased with our coming just on Sunday mornings? Do we really HAVE to come on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, or Gospel Meetings? The Bible doesn't specifically say we HAVE to come those times. But, He does ordain the leadership of elders (or men in the absence of elders until qualified elders are appointed) in the church, specifically elders ,who decide when we need to get together for worship. When we choose to disregard the authoritative decision that has been made concerning worship, we disregard the authority of God (I Peter 5:1-5; Romans 13:1). Do you have to come to church? Is it alright to disregard the authority of God and His leaders?
The question should not be, "Do I have to go to church every time the doors are opened?" Rather, we should WANT to come because we have the right heart before God. "Why do you choose not to come every time the doors are opened?"
Copyright © 2002-James C. Guy – All rights reserved.
*Permission granted to reprint for church or ministry use in free material
(i.e. church bulletins, classes, sermons, etc.)
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