“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.” Revelation 3:15
If you’ve never felt like giving up on church, chances are that a) you don’t go to church, never have and think you never will, b) you have found a comfortable place to nap for an hour on Sunday morning, or c) you are a saint, indeed, and should definitely be a candidate for a medal when you enter heaven’s gate.
What you sometimes feel like doing and know you ought not to do is one thing and what you actually do is something else. Everyone at times gets discouraged with what happens in a church. The music is too loud, or too contemporary. The church is not traditional enough, too intellectual, too emotional, irrelevant, ignoring social issues, too political or not involved enough, or what have you. The pastor comes under fire, as well. He speaks for too long a period of time, not long enough, not biblical enough, not relevant, or what have you. He’s a dictator, or he should have more leadership and make his own decisions. He can’t win.
I’m thinking of the pastor who did his best but just couldn’t seem to connect. In a word, he was boring. A deacon lovingly took him aside and gave him a CD of the previous Sunday’s message. “Here,” he said, sit down in your study and just listen to this.” The pastor agreed to do so. As the deacon left, the pastor put the CD in his player and started the message, his voice drifting out the open door of the study. Ten minutes later the deacon peeked in the door to see what was happening and found the pastor soundly sleeping, gentle snores emanating from his open mouth.
In recent days a host of people say they have given up on church but not on God, and they have begun to substitute a variety of other replacements. Some transfer their memberships to TV preachers, others transfer their allegiance to loosely knit fellowships or Bible studies, but a vast number choose to worship God in nature, on the golf course, at the beach, or meditating on the Sunday newspaper after they have slept in on Sunday morning.
So why bother with church? Since time is limited, may I give you several straight-forward answers without many sub-headings. First, because church attendance is not only the norm of the early Christians, but also is in direct obedience to Scripture itself. Hebrews 10:25 instructs, “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.” The second reason is that in a fellowship of people—the walking wounded, the needy as well as the spiritually mature, we see something of God’s open arms for the masses. Third reason: There is nothing to compare with the worship which comes as voices unite—some on key and some not quite on pitch—singing the praises of the Almighty. Singing or humming to a CD (should you even bother) isn’t the same as a vast choir of people in praise blending their voices together. Fourth: Only in a church fellowship can we encourage one another, at times prod one another towards the right path, and bear one another’s burdens as we need to.
Sure, you can take a burning brand from the fire and it is still aglow, but without other burning logs it quickly begins to go out. Only when the logs burn down to the coals is the wood completely consumed.
A man who was completely deaf went to church every Sunday. “Why bother?” someone asked, adding, “You can’t hear a thing that is going on!” “Yes,” was his response, but that way, they know whose side I am on.” How do you argue with that?
Resource reading: Revelation 3:14-22
This devotional © by Harold J. Sala. All rights reserved. Used by permission from Guidelines International Ministries. Not for sale or profit.