Is it good to go to church? Well, the answer might be surprising and confusing to some. First, those who do not go to church, they are disobeying and sinning against their Lord and Savior. However, quite often those who go to church, they too are displeasing and disobeying the Head of the Church. It appears that one can be sinful if one goes not, and one can be sinful if one goes. How is one to make sense of such apparent ecclesiastical nonsense? Here is the big idea:
Christ has called his humble children to live in community. Both those who avoid church and those who merely attend church, they are not walking in obedience to the Head of the Church and Lover of their Souls.
Perhaps a short meditation on Romans 12 will help prove this point:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8)
In his pastoral letter, Paul transitions from doctrine to duty. He moves from describing that which God has done, to commanding that which man ought to do. Believers, following the accumulation of knowledge, are to make the proper and necessarily life adjustments. Therefore, Paul expects his fellow worshipers, who are completely resting in the grace of Christ, to go to work.
What are they to be? Christians are to be living sacrifices. They are to reckon themselves dead to Satan, self, and sin. Everyday, they are to present themselves afresh to God as a breathing sacrifices. And as such, everyday they exist for only one purpose: to worship God by being holy and acceptable before his loving gaze.
Where are they to begin? Christians are to be transformed from the inside out. In the past, their souls are already purchased by Jesus Christ, but in the present their minds are daily being renewed by Christ’s Holy Spirit. Therefore, through the diligent practice of reading, hearing, meditating, and praying God’s Word with God and God’s people, believers are to grow in holiness. Progressively, they are to find themselves looking less and less like their pagan neighbors. Progressively, they find themselves less and less conformed by the world, and more and more they rejoice in doing more that is wise, good, acceptable, and perfect.
Where are they to be found? Christians, who are humble and think not too highly of themselves, are to be found regularly in Christian community. Since they know they are not the total Christian package; since they know how much they need assistance from God’s people; since they know how much God’s people need their loving support; and since they know they have been specially gifted by the Holy Spirit; diligent worshipers of God regularly assemble themselves together in local assemblies or churches.
So, let us go back to our opening question: Is it good to go to church? The answer is “yes” and “no.”
Those who do not go to church, they are disobeying and sinning against their Lord and Savior. Believers ought not forsake the regular gatherings of their spiritual family. Christians are to find elders and teachers whom they respect. These men of God are then to be honored and followed, and this requires quantity and quality time. So, when the chose body gathers to read, teach, preach, sing, pray, fellowship, wash, eat, drink, and minister together, wise and honorable disciples ought to be present. The individual’s spiritual growth and development necessitates such gatherings. However, this is a secondary reason to attend. Even more important than personal improvement is faithful worship. Because God desires his church to assemble itself together, and because Christians are living sacrifices longing to do that which is wise, good, acceptable, and perfect, and because Christians do not think of themselves more highly than they ought, believers in Christ gather often for worship, education, fellowship, service, and shared ministry. Dear friends, it is not OK to be absent. It is not OK not to go to church!
However, the believer ought to be careful not to sin in their going to church, for in their going they can be displeasing to God. Let not those who claim Christ be merely satisfied with going to church. Showing up on Sunday morning and engaging in corporate worship is grand, but it is not sufficient. Hearing a sermon, singing a song, giving some money, and offering a prayer is good worship, but more is expected of the living sacrifice. As brothers and sisters, as fellow soldiers, as covenantal family members unified in Christ, as individuals responsible one for another, believers ought to please the Father, Son, and Spirit by recognizing their gifts, improving their gifts, and using them out of a fervent love for God and our Christians sojourners. A doctor’s purpose is to aid the sick. A mother’s purpose is to feed and care for her young. A teacher’s purpose is to spread knowledge to his pupils. And a Christian’s purpose is to spend themselves in service, as members one of another, as living sacrifices.
Therefore believer, this week, go to church often. However, be not satisfied with mere attendance. Go to church, to be the church, to improve the church, and in so doing love both God and your dearest neighbors.