I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
Today’s post was written by John. You can connect with John on Facebook or email him at jnotestein [at] aol [dot] com.
Why bother with the church?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, I could gladly report that I am writing this from my beach house in the Bahamas. I hear it from non believers (which I expect), people who have dropped out of church, and even those I worship with on Sunday mornings. The reasons are many, such as the music’s too loud, the music’s too soft, it’s boring, the people are out of touch with life today, all I see are hypocrites there, I need my sleep, I want to catch the pre game show, etc. I’ve even used a few of these excuses and others in my day. But then I asked myself why do we even gather together in the first place?
I grew up eons ago, when families ate dinner together. I didn’t always want to do that either, but I never had a choice. But I can tell you, it helped shape what I think about my family now. My father has been gone for 16 years now, but I can still see him sitting at the head of the table, telling stories or asking us what we were up to (like I was really going to tell him). The point is this: I was a part of something bigger than myself, whether I felt like it or not. The same was true of church. The younger folks may not believe this, but we didn’t always have Children’s Church. Instead, we had to sit in the worship service and be bored to tears. I was busy filling in every ‘O’ and ’0′ I could find in the bulletin. I learned that if I held my Bible open and rested my head on my Mother’s shoulder, I could sometimes catch a quick nap. When Einstein said the time was relative, I feel he was talking about how a one hour church service could feel like days. But today, I can still recall being there, with lots of old people (probably in the 20′s and higher), from different walks of life and economic backgrounds, all singing ‘old school’ hymns from the Broadman Baptist Hymnal. It wasn’t necessarily what we were doing, but who we were doing it with and who we were doing it for: God.
As I go to worship now, those same thoughts go through my head. If we did everything I wanted to do in church, it would probably be a church of one. But it’s not about me. I know that’s hard to believe for some. We all have needs and we want the church, God, the pastor, or someone to recognize that and take care of them. But at the same time, we don’t want to get to close to anyone (they might want me to actually perform some act of service or something). So how can I get to know other people without spending time with them? The answer is that you can’t.
And you can’t share your life with someone if you not willing to spend time with them. Whether it’s your family, your friends, or fellow believers, it’s all the same. You have to invest yourself into their lives, and that means spending time and energy. Many in our culture today worship the individual, treasure time with themselves, and are busy grabbing all they can from life before someone else gets it. From my experience, Christians are not a lot different sometimes. We are to live in the world but not be a part of the world, but that’s hard to do sometimes. The only way I know of to live that way is to spend time in the Word, time listening and talking to God through prayer, and being around fellow believers. And you can’t do that in one or two hours on a Sunday morning. We need to share our lives with each other. In the coffee shop, on the golf course, in our backyards, and in our homes. As Paul says in Romans:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:1-6 ESV)
We worship God in our homes, with our friends, alone on the back porch, and yes, even in church. As much as our sinful selves tries to convince us, it’s not all about us. It’s about Him. And He told us to go make disciples, and we can even do that in church. After all, it is the Bride of Jesus.