“You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6
“I don’t need to be at church this week.”
A “regular” church attender is now considered to be someone who comes to public worship once every three weeks. Therefore, the above quote is the general attitude of most Christians in our culture.
In fact, you can now listen to better Gospel preaching and better praise music on your iPhone than anything you will receive from a local church’s worship service. So, while you may not need to go to church this Sunday—what we fail to realize is that the church needs you to be there.
There are two fundamental flaws to the idea that you don’t need church this week.
To only show up when you “need” church or when the tee time or Panther’s game lets it fit into your busy schedule, shows that you are in a consumption mindset instead of a mindset to surrender yourself to be used by God. To wait until you perceive life is messed up enough that now you need the church means you treat it as you would a visit to the doctor, or your financial planner or a therapist. It’s a commodity of convenience for you. To walk through the door, plop into a pew, and then dart out the back reveals this consumer mentality of hoping for a quick fix.
However, God’s primary mode of transformation is not through the transfer of information, but through the power of relationships. This is why you being there is so important. Because, God has orchestrated the church to become his body, and without your public participation the body is missing a part of itself.
While you may not need to be there—there is someone there that needs you. Remember, since most people only show up when they think they need church, then by you showing up when you don’t need it, means that you are there for their sake. By showing up when you are strong and don’t “need” it–makes you available to encourage those who feel they needed it this week.
So while you may not need church, the church needs you there.
When reflecting on the death of his friend, CS Lewis realizes the void that occurs when we don’t come together:
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald . . .
By losing one member, the entire body is negatively impacted.
Which gets to the fundamental flaw to your argument that you don’t need to be at church this week. That basic attitude actually reveals precisely why you do in fact need to be there.
To think you only need church when things are tough, or because the other aspects of life allot the time for it, or because you need absolution from Friday night’s activities reveals that you are living under the tyranny of moralism. Therefore, you show up at a Gospel-centered church community every week to hear the truth that your life is actually far more messed up than you could ever fathom. You come to hear and spread the good news that God’s love for you is far greater than you could ever hope. This should transform your attitude and help you realize the necessity of gathering weekly for praise and prayer.
Because, by God’s grace you are absolutely right, that you do not have to go to church this Sunday, but you get to!
What would it take for you to move from a “ have to” to “get to” mindsight?