Why has church attendance become considered an option.
Our Christian culture reflects our society’s culture to “do what’s right for me.” Our sinful nature has a way of rationalizing, justifying, and excusing our selfish choices so we can please ourselves. We like what we consider loopholes.
We know that our faith and our salvation are not a legalistic rules-keeping relationship with our God. But belief and behavior are tied together and are central to our salvation. There are commands, so there are expectations of obedience.
Do we remember that the Ten Commandments did not begin with a command? The opening line was: “And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:1-2). God defines his relationship with the nation of Israel before telling the nation what he required. His command based on that relationship was “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). God asked the nation to look to him as their ultimate authority.
From the very beginning, God adopted the family model. The people of Israel were his children. God had expectations of his children because they belonged to him. He was their Father.
Expectations always assume a relationship, and relationship precedes the expectations in a family model. The church is the family of God. So rather than talk about obeying the expectations, shouldn’t we talk about respect and loving submission to the will of the Head of the family?
“Submission is not about authority . . . it is all about relationships of love and respect.” William Paul Young
If the church were a club, it would have rules about the importance and necessity of attending the meetings. But the church is much more important than a club. It is the family of God. Nevertheless, we may be thinking, “We’re family, so even if we miss a “meeting,” we’re still family, so we won’t get kicked out because we miss a meeting every now and then.”
No, you won’t. This is true. But we do need to consider whether our reasons for not attending “the family gathering” are justifiable in the Father’s eyes. Granted that there are justifiable reasons for not attending now and then, and there is probably nothing inherently wrong in where we choose to go or what we choose to do. But if we are honest, we often let involvement in and attendance at worldly events, sports, entertainment, and many other things take precedence over our involvement and attendance in church related functions and services.
The reasons for the choices we make as to where we go and what we choose to do instead of attending church may reveal:
· the weakness of our commitment to our Father, the church, and the mission of the church.
· whether what we have chosen to do rather than attending church is really more important or of greater eternal value
· whether our heart finds what we have chosen to do more enjoyable or more profitable than worship, learning more of God’s Word, the spiritual blessing of partaking of the Lord’s Supper
· what it is teaching our children about commitment to the Lord and devotion to worldly activities being more important devotion to the church
Is there any instruction in the Scriptures that places a strong emphasis on faithful attendance on being there for “. . . the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”? Yes. The first part of this verse says” They devoted themselves to . . .” being there for these activities. They are essential for life in the family of God.
Rather than consider our attendance optional based on whether or not we want to attend or have something else we would rather do, we would do well to follow this admonition:
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Do you need to take action to change your attitude toward attendance? Knowing the spiritual value it is to me, my family, my congregation, and my witness, I will:
____ attend every Sunday this month to begin establishing the discipline
of faithful attendance.
____ not choose to miss just because I want to stay home or do
____ go to bed early enough Saturday night so I will be rested Sunday
morning and won’t be tempted to sleep in
What I really need to do is ___________________________________