Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Bother Going to Church?

Do we go to church to worship God with sacrifices from our own hearts, or do we go to church for selfish reasons, demanding warm “fuzzies,” or are we looking for excuses to stay home?  In Church: Why Bother? Philip Yancey writes, “Church exists primarily not to provide entertainment or to encourage vulnerability or to build self-esteem or to facilitate friendships but to worship God; if it fails in that, it fails.”
Those who know me well know that I struggle hard to be the person God wants me to be.  Indeed, I imagine God finds me to be quite a challenge!!  I will also be the first to tell you that too, too many times I fail and do not even come close to attaining the attitudes and character traits I long to have in order to be an effective witness of God’s love to others.   Jealousy, pride, anger, and other selfish traits, appearing too often in my speech and my actions, negate the effectiveness of my witness.  Nevertheless, to quote a graph I really intended to cross stitch when I bought it, but didn't: “I am a work in progress.  God isn't finished with me yet.”  Clumsy clod that I am, God can still use me if I will let Him.
 To answer Philip Yancey’s question, one reason I bother going to church at Hopewell (a very selfish one, I admit) is because my church family is there, and I need the fellowship.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I look forward to seeing each one of them, to finding out what is going on in their lives, to hugging them, to seeing that they are doing well.  I want to find out if there is anything I can do to help anyone, to find out who needs special prayers.  And yes, I love the warm “fuzzy” feelings I get when someone hugs me or just says how glad he or she is to see me.  I love knowing that, in spite of all my warts and quirks, I am always accepted by my church family.  I realize that people who can and do love me--in spite of myself--are keepers!!
 Another reason I go to Hopewell is because I know-- from experience-- that, if I get off onto the wrong path, someone in my church family loves me enough to correct me before I manage to get into the brier patch.  It is a pretty strong love that dares to hurt feelings in order to save the soul.  For those brave, loved ones I am most grateful.

Of course, my most important reason for going to church, and your most important reason for going to church too, is to worship God.  While I would like to make worshiping God the preacher’s responsibility, and not my own, if I am truly and brutally honest with myself, worshiping God, regardless of what I’d like to think and insist, is solely, without question, my own responsibility.   Yes, I am called to worship God continuously, where ever I am, but once a week, for an hour or so, I enjoy moving out of my house and going to the church where the atmosphere is a little more reverent than that in my den.
  Selfish that I am, I must constantly remind myself that worship is not about me—it is about God, a God who loved me enough to sacrifice His dearly beloved Son so His blood could wash my soul whiter than snow, thereby insuring that I may someday enter into His Holy Presence.
 Writer Walter Wink, says “To worship is to remember who owns the house.”   My church is God’s house; we are the body of Christ; our congregation belongs to God, and we bother going to church because we feel the need to worship God with our church family.   Please know that my heart rejoices when I am with my brothers and sisters in Christ and am able to worship with them on Sunday mornings. Peace and blessings to each one of you. 

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