The Better Question
“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Ephesians 5:25
Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought. Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member. Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service. He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.
Joe was busy just like everyone else. His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times. He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree. His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances. Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord. His life was changing.
Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church. His wife and kids went without him. He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church. The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again. That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired. He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled. He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm. “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family. Each one was now discouraged. No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday. After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.
A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.
Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance? The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life. After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church. What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us? Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance? The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.
Some believers get out of the church attendance habit. They do not decide to, but it just happens. One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule. After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church. With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”
After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?” The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance. I have found that this reasoning is faulty. The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church. The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ. Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.
A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?” In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people. We should live to please Jesus, not others. Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.
Jesus wants you to come back to church. Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord. Go back to church this Sunday. The people will congratulate and welcome you.