Dear friend in Christ,
Why go to church? A question that most of us will ask at one time or another. The reason to not attend will often times seem to far outnumber the reason to attend. In the years that I have been involved in ministry I have heard so many explanations for not attending that there are probably few that I have not heard. Most stem from a perceived harm that has been done by one or several members of the congregation. “You don’t know what they did to me, you don’t know what they said to me.” Sometimes it is just easier walking away than to deal with all the baggage that may come with relationships in the church.
In truth, much of what we know as “church”, is a more modern definition of our activities within the building structure. Many of the activities of the early church within the Jewish tradition took place in the home. The synagogue was not around until after the captivity of Israel, and even before that the temple had only a few times during the year that you were required to attend. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, we begin to see the people gathering more frequently together. So, on the surface, what is the harm in going my own way and doing my own thing?
The harm is found in the denial of family into which God has called us. Paul reminds us that we are a body, and Jesus tells us to not forsake the assembly of the brothers. We attend not for ourselves but for each other. Hopefully, we receive something from spending time in worship but our primary focus is toward God not ourselves. It is when we look to having our own needs met by God and others that the focus of our time in worship goes wrong. The early church grew by embracing those that society ignored. The church grew through love, even loving the unlovable or enemy. Those who hurt us or maybe even wronged us. While it is true that you can worship God while doing the laundry, the question is, will you. When we set aside a time and space in our lives for God then that time is kept. The key is “for God”. So, the answer to the first question is simple and to the point. We go to church to meet God. Along the way we run into others. Some of those encounters will be strengthening; others will take everything right out of us. We attend church so that the family of God that we have been placed into may celebrate with each other. For that reason, we are encouraged to put to rest as quickly as possible any discord that may exist among us.