The reluctance some people have in maintaining their weekly observance of the Lord’s Day is nothing new (especially during the holidays), the Hebrew writer finding it necessary to admonish some believers to, “…not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,…” Hebrews 10:25 He, and others since, recognized the value of following the tradition of the early church in, “…devot(ing) themselves to the Apostles teaching… to… fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42; firmly establishing the pattern of worship that is still observed, for the most part, today. The most telling difference appearing to be their devotion to God, one another, and to these opportunities to join together in worship. Which goes a long way in explaining today’s irregular church attendance, many people doing just enough (whatever that is) or what they feel is required for them to be “safe.”
During the last several years, and periodically throughout church history, people – especially young people – have questioned the church’s commitment to “real” people as well as its ability to communicate its message in a relevant manner. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. In the process, we have discovered, or rather re-discovered, that church shouldn’t be restricted to a building; prayer and worship having the capacity to be engaged in anywhere. Meditation, study and application of scripture likewise having merit in the privacy of our own homes as well as in church. So why bother?
What are the benefits of keeping a “Sabbath”, of going to church, of becoming engaged in corporate worship? Getting to know each other, developing relationships with God and others who are struggling and seeking the same things; which is most readily accomplished through communication – like a day spent with someone you love. And believe it or not, its freedom – from work and its distraction; allowing – or forcing us – to focus on spiritual matters, as we celebrate God’s goodness and share the success we find in him, as well as the difficulties we experience when attempting to do things on our own. It’s preparation for the week ahead – not to mention eternity, and then there’s worship of God in thanksgiving for what he’s done (salvation), what he didn’t do (punishment), and what he promises to do in the future. (Through the day by day experiences of our lives and life everlasting in heaven.) So what’s not to like about that?
Why is it such a struggle to go to church? And why is it almost impossible to prolong that experience with a return Sunday evening or to commit to mid-week services and outreach programs? Time – busy schedules, which is true of us all. But doesn’t that speak to priorities as well? What, or who, is important to you? Shouldn’t God come first, rather than working him in to our busy schedules when – and if – we have the time and inclination? (And yes, you can praise and worship at home, but the reality is, if you can’t find time for corporate worship with others, you probably won’t find quality time on your own either.)
Are you bored? Church not exciting enough for you? There are any number of things clamoring for our attention – even on Sunday – these days; but again, what’s more important? Besides, is church supposed to be entertaining? It certainly doesn’t have to be dry and boring just because it’s dealing with spiritual matters and it can be exciting – but does it have to be entertaining? The problem often lies within our own hearts and minds, as we usually hear, see and feel what we expect; if you don’t expect much from church – or anticipate disappointment – that’s exactly what you’ll get. (And if there really is a problem with the church you presently attend and you can’t be a part of a solution, it’s your responsibility to search till you find one that meets your needs – not necessarily one that meets your expectations.)
For some, there’s a bit of arrogance to their nonattendance, as they feel there really isn’t too much to be learned by going to church. Surely we haven’t learned all there is to learn nor grown as much as we’re capable. Are we reluctant to worship openly? Maybe you don’t feel in the depths of your soul just how much you have to be thankful for. If so, there is indeed room for better understanding and growth.
I realize we no longer live by the Law but under grace, but I don’t believe that negates the Godly principles to be found in the Old Testament. Isaiah speaking to this issue, directly to the Israelis and their belief system, and possibly alluding to an attitude we have in our own day and age when it comes to honoring our “Sabbath” day. “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find joy in the Lord,…” Is. 58:13,14
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