Why do we make our way to church each Sunday – particularly here in Northeast Ohio where, for half the year, trudging to church on Sunday mornings means risking life and limb on snow and ice-covered roads? For that matter, even when the weather’s not an issue, wouldn’t sleeping-in or going to breakfast at Sunny Street or playing 18 holes of golf be more fun than going to church? I mean, God’s everywhere, right? If all the world’s His sanctuary, we can worship God anywhere; who needs church?
I think each of us goes to church for multiple reasons, some big and universal, others small and personal. Obviously, we do it to praise and worship our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. We do it to deepen our understanding of His Word and to sharpen our faith against the steel of other believers. We do it, perhaps most simply, because the Bible tells us to.
Psalm 150:1-6 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”
“Praise Him enthusiastically, regularly and corporately,” sounds very much to me like, “GO TO CHURCH!”
One of the best reasons for going to church is one that I think is often overlooked or taken for granted: Church attendance, or more specifically, church membership, makes us a willing, mindful, full-fledged member of the greatest “club” in the history of humanity, the community of Christian believers. Casual and superficial isn’t God’s plan for us.
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Hebrews 10: 24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
We have both the opportunity and the obligation to encourage one another; encouraging and lifting up one another is a big part of what church is about. When you’re next at church, take a look at the people around you. Even more than a community, we’re a family, YOUR family, your beautiful, smart, kind, stupid, selfish, short-sighted and loving family. We will delight you and make you mad, we’ll surprise you and disappoint you, but we will always be there and we are all yours… exactly as God intended.
- Paul Burkholder