When Sunday morning arrives (much too early), I often wish I could stay in my warm, comfy bed and attend The First Church of the Fluffy Pillow, or that friendly little gathering of Believers down on the corner, The Congregational Fellowship of Cozy Covers. If I’m feeling really ambitious– if I’ve got a fire in my belly– I’ll go ahead and drag myself out of bed, and schlep around in my pink chenille robe, coffee mug in hand and tune in to CBS Sunday Morning. Are you shocked that a Christian hasn’t hit the floor running, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, bursting out the door, on a dead run for church services?
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10: 23-25. A few months back, I mentioned to an unbelieving friend that I’d like to skip church the next morning and just take it easy. She said, “Well, it’s not like attending is mandatory.” First of all, by me making that statement, I wasn’t exhibiting a good Christian witness to my un-saved friend. Secondly, I thought, “Well, no, it’s not Law, it’s not mandatory, I could skip church, but should I?” Obviously, the answer is “no”. Oh, I won’t lose my salvation, but I do know what will happen, even though I’d like to brush it off and ignore it; I will become desensitized to sin. Seriously. If I don’t keep my nose in the Bible, and fellowship with other believers, slowly, ever so slowly, event by event, I will begin to think that God doesn’t really matter than much, and His ‘law’ that has been placed in my heart at conversion, well… the rules are going to start bending a little, and not towards the good side. Like a determined salesman, Satan already has his foot in the door; there’s no need to open it wide and extend an invitation.
I was reading an article on this topic, and the author claimed that many pastors use this verse as a threat so believers will attend church and therefore, attendance numbers and the contributions will be up. I suppose that could happen, but overall, I think that’s silly assumption. The author was also up in arms about the idea of meeting in an actual church building, saying that one does not have to physically meet in an actual structure. I remember asking a friend one time if he attended a church, and he said no, he likes to go out into the woods by himself and let nature be his church. I wasn’t born yesterday, and I know this person well enough that if he was communing with God when he was in the woods, by now he’d be qualified to lead the National Day of Prayer–and baby, it ain’t happenin’.
So why isn’t this Christian beating a path to the door of the church? The #1 answer for me is laziness. It’s easier to stay in bed, but it’s not what I need. I need to be in fellowship with other believers. I need the social contact, the edification, the exchange of ideas, the encouragement, the accountability, and the love and acceptance. Even if I drag my feet on the way to church, when I do arrive, I forget all about those toasty, soft blankets. Instead, I see my friends, my sisters and brothers in Christ. I smile, I laugh, I catch up on their week, they share their burdens, joys, and praises. I am uplifted, stimulated, and guess what? I learn something–every single time. I learn more about God’s word, and how to apply it in my life. I may be convicted of some sin in my life, either willing disobedience or just plain old-fashioned laziness… who me? Yes. And last Sunday, I learned something else–really learned it: It’s not about me. Imagine that! And what I realized, well, that’s for another post.