Why Go To Church?
I don’t go to church to look good or win friends. I go because I want to honor God. I want to worship Jesus and celebrate what he did on the cross and does for me every day.
Some go to church to look good or please a spouse or parent. They go through the motions to look good and to keep the peace, but their hearts aren’t being changed, they aren’t given their hearts to God. They are there for pretense alone.
Is that what God wants?
It’s like a man who brings his wife a gift, flowers or chocolates, and when his wife thanks him maybe, she kisses him to express her gratitude. He says that it wasn’t nothing. The store was having a sale. Does she want the gift anymore? No. She wants her husband’s love. She wants her husband to think of her first to want to make her happy not for pretenses or to keep the peace, but because her happiness is his main intention that when she is happy so is he. She wants his heart.
That’s what God wants. God wants us to love and honor him not out of obligation, but because we want to, because we are in a relationship with the divine not to keep the peace, to appease God, or for some pretense, but because we are moved to it. God wants us to love and honor him not with our words and rituals but with our hearts and actions. Through loving and caring for each other, we worship God. This, I believe is what St. Francis meant when he said we should preach the gospel always, use words when necessary.
In Isaiah 29 God says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
We shouldn’t go to church out of obligation, but because show we love God with all out heart, soul, and strength. We worship God not for our sake, but to affirm God is our source and ground of being. Church is not a building you go on Sunday morning, but a loving community committed to the way of Jesus, a group of people committed to being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. The church is not made of stone and steel, but people gathered by Jesus saying yes to the Kingdom of God and no to the world of men and things. To be in the church and live your faith in a real way is to be in breach of the systems of the world.
In Ephesians 5, Paul writes, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
A Christian is one who loves the unlovable, includes the excluded, guides the lost, cares for the hurting, is committed to being better than they used to be, helping others do the same, and affirms that we do this through Jesus Christ. Wherever a Christian goes and whatever a Christian does influences his worship and fellowship. Everything we do and don’t do should be guided by the teachings of Jesus. The bible and our reading and studying of it should affect the type of life we lead. We should follow God’s example and be an example to the world. As it has been said, “Grace is like the sunlight on a building: It can enter only into those rooms which have their curtains drawn wide apart.”
Going to church is not something you do to look good or to keep the peace, it’s something you because if you didn’t in some way you would feel incomplete. It’s not about attendance at some building on a certain day and time, but about the way, you live out your life on a daily basis. It’s about the kind of person you want to be and are trying to be, not something to cross of a things-to-do list.
Micah 6 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
So, the next time you go to church pause for just a moment before you enter and ask yourself if you really want to be there or if you would rather be asleep or doing something else. Do that. Come back when you really want to be part of the church.
Also, when you are walking down the street or when you’re at work or with your family or driving to the store or a restaurant ask yourself if you want to be part of the church. If you do look for someone to help, smile at someone, or speak to a stranger. There’s always someone somewhere that needs some help. It only takes a moment to brighten a stranger’s day. Hold the door open for someone, give a dollar to homeless person, let someone into traffic, or offer your seat to an elderly person. There’s always something you could do to say God loves you. If someone asks why you are doing tell them about Jesus. Don’t preach. Just say you’re a Jesus follower and you’re just trying to do your part.
Church is not a building you go to, but a way of being in the world.