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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Go To Church?


          I was not overly fond of high school. Often feeling like a misfit, I wondered what would happen if I just studied everything on my own instead of going to school.  Back in the 60's I don't recall hearing much about home schooling and even if there had been I don't know that my mother would have been particularly well-equipped to teach me nor do I think she would have wanted to.  During that time I purchased from the Doubleday Book Club a four volume set called HIGH SCHOOL SUBJECTS SELF TAUGHT.  This set covered all of the major high school topics, as well as topics that weren't even taught in the school where I went, and on the surface sounded quite comprehensive.  In reality it was a very cursory overview of topics with nothing really substantial provided to actually teach much at all.

         Without the teachers to guide me I would have probably learned very little and would have had to seek out someone to help me when questions needed answered.  It was not an impossibility since I could go to a library or perhaps find those who knew something about the topics about which I had questions.  The organized body of a school consolidates resources which simplifies the learning process. The social body of the school provides the support system of faculty, curriculum, and other students. A student has opportunities to socialize and become involved in sports and other outside activities.  There is a sense of focus and direction in the learning process.  This is not to say anything negative against home-schooling which is directed by a curriculum of learning materials and supplemented with social activitites outside the home.  It is possible for one to be self-taught, but practically speaking, in most cases this scenario would be absurd.

         This is similar to the person who calls themself religious, spiritual, a believer in God, or a Christian and does not go to church or participate in some sort of social interaction with other believers (which for the sake of simplicity will be included in the concept of "church" in this essay).  One might say that church is like a school where God is the principal.  I will provide some of the reasons followers of Jesus Christ should be a part of a church.

  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:10 (N.I.V.)



            When Jesus walked on Earth as a man, he gathered followers and met in groups.  He went to the synagogues.  He ate and socialized with others.  Jesus encouraged fellowship and placing others before self.  Love of God and of others is the message of Christianity. In the early times of Christianity the church was the main focus as we see in the books of the New Testament.  The body of the church provided the mutual support of believers as they learned and grew in the teachings of Jesus and acted as a base of support for the missionaries that were sent out to spread the gospel and start new churches.  As Jesus said, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."   Matthew 18:20 (NIV)   Without the support of others of like mind we act alone and our subjectivity can lead to a lack of accountability when we err in our understanding. 

 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (New International Version)



             There is strength in numbers.  By ourselves we are weaker than we are when we have have others to back us up.  And after all we are human, therefore subject to physical ailments as well as failure of the emotions and the spirit.  If we have adverse forces all around us we are made stronger with allies by our sides who are fighting with us. A strong church body can provide encouragement and help when we are down.  We might stay home and read our bible and watch religious television programs and think that we dont' need any thing else and don't need to go to church. That may work for a while. It may even work for your whole life.  You may never have a car accident, but you still buy auto insurance. 
For the body is not one member, but many.
1 Corinthians 12:14


             Think a moment about a hospital.  There are many different people with many different functions at a hospital.  There are the doctors and nurses who care for you and bring you back to wellness.  But there are also many others involved--janatorial staff to clean up, maintenance crews to keep equipment in operating order, administration to keep things organized, and many more. 


             A church is similar to a hospital or any large business that incorporates many people with different skills   First Corinthians chapter 12 talks about the diversity of the church and the functions of the individual members added together to make one functioning body.  It compares the different parts of the body that make up each of us.  We are all unique with different talents and together we complement one another.  We give one another strength and encouragement and help.  Some of you may say that you've gone to church and it wasn't like that.  Firstly, perhaps you should look for another church. Most of all, you need to give it time and give what you can of yourself.  You need to become a part of the body of the church and serve others.  If you are just waiting for others to fulfill you, then you will never be fulfilled. Christian life is serving others.


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (New International Version)


           Whether we want to admit or not, we are all in this world and its destiny together.  If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, then you have a commonality with all others who are also followers. We need to encourage other believers to do that which they are called to do. We are told in God's Word to meet together in order to provide encouragement to other believers.
 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)



          Look at fads and trends.  See how young people dress to be hip.  Notice how neighbors will try to outdo each other with new things.  People are influenced by each other.   We are bombarded by television, magazines, and other forms of media assault that tell us what to be like and what to do. We are shaped by the world around us.  Are you sharpened or dulled by those influences?  Who exactly does influence your life the most and where is that taking you?

      

6 comments:

  1. Great post. We are human and will be influenced by many things every day. We just need to pay attention to what we listen to, and what we follow. Not every thing we see, hear, taste, touch is beneficial to us.

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  2. Amen. There have been times when I have not gone to church for several weeks on end, claiming I was "too tired" or whatever... and it really has an effect on me. I love fellowship with other believers and I need the strength they give me... it's a lonely existence without them. You're absolutely right that Christian fellowship was designed by God to give us joy and encouragement.

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  3. Love your post. I was especially struck by the encouragement to get involved and serve in your church. That's the best way to get connected and feel a part of the church body. I'd also like to put in a plug for group bible study. I belong to Bible Study Fellowship, and I know of no better way to grow closer to Christ than studying the bible with fellow belivers.

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  4. Teresa, Anne, and Susan--
    Thanks for your encouraging comments. Actually, Susan, your mention of the Bible Study is a good one. My Sunday posts have been based on an adult Bible Study that I lead at my church every Sunday morning.

    Stephen -- I deleted your comment, I agree with what you said, although I don't know if I could ever become a marathon runner. Hope you feel better soon and thanks for thinking of me.

    Lee

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  5. Oh Boy did this post ever speak to me. I have missed church for several
    weeks now for various reasons and I am really bothered by it and feeling guilty. I notice myself slipping in my walk with HIM when I miss church.
    By the way...I have something for you on my blog post "Circle of Friends".

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  6. It's easy to get out of the habit of going to church, say when you move from one area to another. I've done that, but I feel dissatisfied and guilty. You're right about needing the fellowship of people who believe as I do, they become extended family. I've always felt that church is for Christians, not sinners, though there probably are a few sinners in church. It is a school to learn and be disciplined. Also, a place to receive moral support during a crisis! There are times, without my church family, it would have been harder to deal with certain situations! Lee, a very good post!

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Lee