I can do without Church
However, it has made me wonder about myself. What if I weren't the pastor and didn't have to be in attendence on Sunday? Would I be gone as much as some? Would I find it easy to sleep in or be late? Would someone be concerned about me, and would my absence mean anything if the sanctuary is full? Rebecca reminds me that if I were employed outside the church that we might be traveling to visit children (really grandchildren). The question boils down to this, "Am I lost without it, or can I do without it?'
Now before you answer that question too quickly, mere attendance isn't the issue. It runs much deeper. You may attend church every Sunday but for all the wrong reasons. Your mom may have created such guilt in you as a child that not being in church weighs you down. You might not miss church because it is what you are "suppose" to do, and your habit is well established. You might even be at church every Sunday because you haven't anything better to do that makes you feel as good. The bottom line question is, "are you lost with out it?"
That is the question I am contemplating today, am I lost when I am not in the presence of God and in the company of His people? Can I take church or leave it, and if I can leave it why is that so? Though I do not desire to live in a country that is opressive to the Christian faith, the reality is that during persecution the metal of our faith is tested. The value of our time together is determined when the cost of losing it rises.
Being at church or in a small group is optional because there is always next week. Being with other believers isn't as important because I am surrounded by the people I love and that is sufficient to make me feel safe, secure, and fulfilled. We give a wink and nod to oneanother when we do attend, but don't really want to engage in our failures, or rather my failures. I am alway interested in listneing, but not sharing. And though we rejoice in visitors who fill up the church, but heaven forbid that we ask them to come home with us for lunch and ruin our routine. I mean the Packers are playing at noon. Am I lost without it?
I gues it depends on what "it" is. If "it" is the church, what value is there in church attendance that creates loss if I am not there? Can I not worship God, be a good Christian and not be bogged down with superficial religiousity? I can find more love, acceptance and grace at the local Pub. That's what many unchurched Christians will say.
When the early church swept across the Roman Empire it was a message of life to the opressed, hope for the down trodden, and freedom to those caught in sin. People gathered as a result of their common failings and the freedom they found in Christ. They didn't embrace sin, but didn't destroy the sinner. They confessed their failing to oneanother and rejoiced in the grace and mercy of God. They couldn't wait to be together because it was the only safe place to be, the only place of hope, the only place where God's expression of love was so gloriously expressed through their love for one another. They couldn't do with out it. I'm just saying.....