Happy Monday to you friends. I pray you had a meaningful time in God's house on Sunday. Hopefully everyone who reads this is engaged with a local Bible believing church, but if you are not, allow me to encourage you to seek out a body of believers that can encourage you in your walk with the Lord.
Hebrews 10: 23-25
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Today I want to talk...er....write about an issue that is close to my heart, not only as a pastor, but as a follower of Christ. If I were to say to you: "Christians who can go to church, but choose not to are selfish," what comes to your mind? Does that seem too harsh? In your opinion, is that statement true or does it depend on the circumstances? Notice that I didn't say "Christians that do not go to church are selfish"...I didn't say that because there are valid reasons (albeit few) that can keep a follower of Christ away from their local church. I make a distinction between people who legitimately can't attend verses those who can, but choose not to. Also, allow me to make clear that I'm not talking about the person who misses church every once and a while. I am talking about the person who (on a regular basis) chooses to do other things, rather than be engaged with a local church. I'm talking about a long-term habit of neglecting "meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25).
For those who know me, you know that I do not go around saying things like the statement I made above. In general, I see little benefit in making pronouncements like that...but just because I would not say it, does that mean it's not true? In fact, I believe it's very true and it breaks my heart whenever I see someone choosing to stay away from their local church. I say this, not only as a pastor, but as a follower of Christ. For some (who choose to not go to church), it's a matter of a past hurt, for others it's a matter of priorities. Sometimes it has to do with theological differences...while other times, it's good ol' fashioned laziness. Also, and it saddens me to say this, but I've met people who choose not to attend a church because they do not want to support a church financially. Regardless of the reason, when someone makes the choice to stay home, work, go fishing, or simply sleep in, that person is choosing themselves over other people.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the Apostle Paul had chosen to stay home or work on his tents, instead of engaging with other believers? What if every Christian were to have the belief that attending church were not necessary? I think most of us would agree that both of those scenarios would be very bad. Here is why I call the choice to not engage with and support a local church "selfish": because the reason we choose to engage with other believers has more to do with "them" than it does with "you." In addition, when we choose to support a local church, we are making a conscience effort to propel the gospel forward, to places we can never reach and to people we will never meet.
Here in the Western hemisphere, where we view everything through an individualistic worldview, the typical Christian views their relationship to follow Christ no different than other "individual" choices they make. In reality, our choice to follow Christ should affect everything we do. God does not want us to be selfish with the free gift of salvation. If we are parents, our top priority should be to get our kids involved in a local church. However, even if we do not have kids, we have so much to offer others...this is why it is selfish to choose what YOU want over the needs of others.