The longer you’re a part of something, the easier it is to take it for granted. This maxim holds true in just about all aspects of life, and it holds true for being a part of the church as well. If you’re reading this, it’s probable that you’ve been a part of God’s church for a long time, maybe most of your life.
Ask yourself this. Have I begun to take for granted what it means to be a part of the church of our Lord?
For example, here’s another question we should ask ourselves: Do I love my church family enough to be faithful in attendance?
Consider this passage:
Hebrews 2:11-12 (ESV)
11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
Contextually, the one “who sanctifies” is Christ, and those “who are sanctified” are us. So the Hebrew writer is saying that the one who is calling us “brothers” is Jesus. Jesus is our brother. We are his brothers and sisters.
That means that Jesus’ Father is OUR Father (Matt. 6:9). So if Christ is our brother and his Father is our Father, then our church family consists of not just our fellow Christians at the local church and throughout the world. Our church family also consists of the Son of God and God the Father.
Notice something else about Hebrews 2:11-12. The one who says “in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise” (v. 12) is Jesus, the one “who sanctifies” us and calls us his “brothers” (v. 11). Where is Jesus singing God’s praise? “In the midst of the congregation.” Jesus, our brother, is present every time we come together to worship (cf. Matt. 18:20).
So let me ask again. Do we love our church family enough to be faithful in attendance? Do I love my church family — including Jesus my brother and my heavenly Father — to go to church?
Because if we have the means and the ability to go to church…and yet choose not to do so…then we miss out on being with Jesus. We miss out on being in the presence of our Father in heaven. We miss out on being with our church family.
That means we miss out on being stronger spiritually. It means we are not doing our part to help the church grow. God wants every one of his congregations to grow. Can they grow if you are not there?
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
This passage is condemning a habit. Habits are formed by mindsets. Therefore, this passage is condemning a mindset.
It’s not talking about missing due to being sick or caring for a loved one who is sick. It is not talking about coming every single time you can except for some times when you can’t because of work or other things out of your control.
It’s talking about having the means and the ability to come to worship whenever the doors are open…and choosing not to do so.
To those of you who watch at home online: I appreciate doing that during the early days of COVID when the contagion factor was so high and the death rate was also high with no vaccines in sight. However, I have a sincere and respectful question for you if you are still watching online even now.
On Monday through Saturday, are you out and about? Are you at Walmart and the grocery store with regularity? Are you at work for 8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week? Are you among people a lot, a lot more now than you were in the early days of COVID?
If you are, and for many of you — not all I’m sure, but many — what I’ve just described does fit what you have been doing for a while now, then why are you still at home watching worship online instead of being at the church building with your church family?
To those of you who have two or more assemblies on Sundays and have a mid-week Bible class: If you do not have a sick person at home to care for, you yourself are not sick, and you do not have to be at work…do you worship in the morning and then come back to worship again in the afternoon or evening? Do you come to not only the worship service but also the Bible classes offered on Sundays and later in the week?
If you don’t…why? What is keeping you? If it’s not necessary work or sickness, what is it?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
You can’t do what this verse says if you stay at home. Do you realize how discouraging it is to see lower crowds and know that many who are not at church could in fact be at church if they wanted to be? Do you understand that when you fail to show up, you discourage your brethren and God himself?
Do you realize that when you fail to show up regularly, you are letting everyone who knows you — including God — know exactly how much love you have for the church…which is basically not nearly as much love as you have for whatever frivolous, unnecessary thing you are choosing over coming to worship? It’s something to think about.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” When you choose to watch from home or stay at home when you could in fact be at church, you are not seeking first…as your top priority…God’s kingdom and his righteousness. It’s that simple.
The opposite is also true. Doing what God told us to do and not forsaking the assembly means that we obey God. It means we put him first. It means that we are grateful to God. It means that we love him.
It also means that we are setting a good example to others. Parents, know this. Count on it, because it is a fact. Your children are watching you. If they see you staying at home on Sundays and staying at home for the second service and staying at home for the Bible classes, and if they see you deciding to just watch online all the time…then just know that they will end up doing the same. In fact, it’s likely that they will do even less than that when they are older.
This is because you are sending them a message. You can talk about how God is important…but in reality he’s not as important as doing other things. So don’t be surprised if decades from now you see that they are not faithful Christians, or at best not that spiritually mature.
Is that what you want for them?
The question is sound, relevant, and important.
Do I love my church family…and my own family…enough to go to church?