Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Go to Church?

  If I've heard it once I've heard it a  thousand times; you don't have to  go to church to worship God.  This statement is usually made in response to a  question like 'Are you saved?', and isn't an answer to the question at all. If I ask 'Are you saved?' and your  response is 'You don't have to go to church', it's as nonsensical as if I had asked 'What color is my shirt' and you said 'It tastes like chicken'. It's a dodge; an evasive tactic to get around what was asked and at the same time  steer the conversation  towards whatever grievance the person has against some church somewhere or some pastor somewhere.  In fact,  just last week  a guy told me that God was actually against people going to church.  That was  just one  of  several weird  things he said all of which eventually led back to the  heart of the matter; he was mad at some preacher somewhere.
   Let me say this;  I don't blame you if you're mad at some preacher somewhere. I preach, and I pretty much stay irritated with myself.  But if you do as  some of my family have done and  stay away from church  for  multiple decades because this one guy  in this one place did this one thing, you're just being stupid.  Find another place, find another guy, and  wait for him to do some  completely different thing so that you can get mad all over again and stay home.  Go for it.  Take your ball and go home.  Pout.  We will all be impressed with your ability to not only get hurt and stay hurt because after all, that's hard to do. After all, you're  the only person that's ever been hurt or discouraged  or disappointed.  In fact, we would all be really impressed if you started a blog or website or something where you can tell everybody how  hurt you've been. Maybe you can find other bitter people and you can spend your 'worship time' blasting an making snide comments about people you used to pray for.
   I'm getting off topic.
   I won't argue that you can't read the Bible  by yourself at home,because obviously you can and you should. You can also pray by yourself at home and sing at home, and you  certainly should.  But the fact is  that God has instituted the gathering of believers together because  there are certain things that God wants done in all our lives that can  only happen when we assemble.  If you stay home, you will miss out on what God wants to do  in your life. Rather than listing all the  really swell reasons  you have for staying home, let me show you  a handful of reasons from the Bible  why you should go. Since we are all so self-obsessed,  I'll even leave out the ones where God benefits, and just focus on the ones that benefit you.
 1. Giving  I  figured I'd start out with the  one that is most likely to make people stop reading. There is  another post in the works that deals with giving, but the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 16 " Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.  Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store , as God hath prospered him , that there be no gatherings when I come."  One of the reasons you should go to church is so that you  can give away some of your money.  If you hold to the idea that  church isn't for you, then  you surely wouldn't be bothered if we showed up at your door with a collection plate, would you?  Somehow I suspect that you would.  The Bible is clear; God says get together  on the first day of the week and take up an offering.  If you want to skip that,  go right ahead, I'm not your dad.  But giving is fun, and  the work will get done either way.
  2. Growth .  The Bible says in Ephesians 4  "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" God desires  to grow you and to  use you to grow others. To accomplish this, God gave to the church people who can preach and teach the Bible so that  those people might  help perfect each other. As you 'worship God' in your deer stand or in your living room, or at the beach (these are all places that people  have assured me where they can worship God while avoiding the question) ask yourself this ; who are you edifying, and who is edifying you?  The concept implies that you have to be around other people to do it.  The local assembly is where you can  learn some Bible, where you can  have your iron sharpened by other iron, and where you can learn to tolerate people who are less mature and less spiritual than you. 
 3. Friendship  In Romans 16 , Paul names some names. " I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.  Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:  Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks , but also all the churches of the Gentiles.  Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.  Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.  Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.  Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.  Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.  Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.  Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.  Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.  Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.  Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.  Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them."  All theology aside, if that group of people  had simply gotten saved and then lived a Lone Ranger Christianity, Paul never would have known them, and they never would have known each other.  They never would have known the joy of not only  ministering, but ministering and labouring together. I have my own list, and it includes not only people in both churches that I've been a part of, but street preachers all over the world.  If you don't have a list like this, you don't have any idea what you've been missing.  How are you supposed to bear one another's burdens if you don't know who one another are?
  That comes with it the risk that you'll be  hurt, or  swindled, or lied to or lied about. That's definitely a possibility. But everybody else you go to church with is also  taking that chance with you. So you MIGHT have a bad experience if you go, but you WILL  miss out if you stay away.  That's pretty easy math, I think.
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