If worshipers were asked as they entered a church why they came, what would the survey reveal? Here are a variety of valid reasons for people coming to church:
Sunday morning is church time in our family. Traditions build stability in the family.
2. Fulfilling an obligation.
The third commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” I attend worship to keep the Law.
3. See friends we have not been with all week.
Fellowship with friends at church can be an enriching experience.
4. The need for a quiet time after spending a week in a noisy world.
Jesus found it necessary to have his quiet time. Is it not reasonable that we need such a time?
5. To worship God.
Singing praises to God from whom we have received all of our blessings is a part of the Christian life.
6. To satisfy another person who wants me to attend worship.
You might think this is a queer reason for going to church. However, I have seen it bring great joy to a mother when her son attended church with her each Christmas Eve. I’m sure it made the son feel good, too.
There are many other reasons for attending church. The most important reason, I believe, is so God can have a personal visit with you through His Word. That visit will feed your soul and strengthen your relationship with him.
In His personal visit with us, Jesus reveals he wants to be our friend. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (15, 16).
What do these words say about God’s relationship with us? They clearly teach that he does not want it to be an impersonal acquaintance with him. He lets us to know that he is the One who is initiating this friendship. “I chose you.” As friends, Jesus wants no secrets about himself, nor about us. Both his life and ours are to be “open books.”
Jesus makes clear that he is the Son of God who came to restore us into fellowship with God. He calls us to be his disciples and assures us that if we follow him, life will not always be easy, but it will be abundant. He promises to be faithful and to never forsake us. He further assures us that one day all who trust him will inherit an eternal home where there will be no sorrow, suffering or death.
Through Jesus’ personal visit, He gives us an honest understanding of who we are. We are the crowning work of God’s creation made in his image, but we are not sweet, innocent people as sometimes we would like to believe we are. We are sinners who have broken God’s Law. Our Father can have nothing to do with sin, so he sent into this world His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sin. Payment has been made for our sin and if we will receive Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are restored into fellowship with God. What a friend! Yes, it is important to meet old friends in church on Sunday. However, it is far more important to be with our greatest friend, the Lord Jesus, and receive a good word from him.
In this personal visit with us, God looks at our spirit and tells us that we need some help. Let’s imagine we came to church this morning with some strong feelings against another person. We can hide these feelings from other people, but God knows our hearts. If we are left to ourselves, this hatred toward another person can continue to live in us. God is not willing to let this happen. We have to get rid of this spiritual garbage. So He says, “Love each other as I have loved you. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
These words from our Lord might force us to have a visit with this person whom we have grown to dislike very much. We cannot be the recipients of God’s love and live from day to day with an unforgiving spirit and malice toward another person. The time to justify our anger is over. We have to deal with it.
Isn’t this valuable counsel? It is if we let Christ have this heart-to-heart talk with us in the worship service. Tradition might let us go to church just because it is the thing our families do. However, when worship is more than fulfilling an obligation, God speaks to us, and big changes take place in our lives.
As the worship service continues and God speaks to us through His Word, He might detect a lack of joy in our lives. So Jesus says, “I want my joy to be in you that your joy may be complete.” When we hear these words, our natural reaction is, “We are happy people. Things do happen that can make us sad, but give us time and our old happy personality will shine again.” Nevertheless, Jesus is not talking about happiness that comes and goes depending on the day. He is speaking about joy. There is a difference. Maybe the sermon will call to mind a person who was very unhappy while having an inner joy.
Let me tell you about Lois. It was a cloudy day when she said good-bye to her husband after breakfast. He had to attend a meeting seventy-five miles from home. They had plans for the evening. However, a message came from the highway patrol that Lois’ husband had been in an accident and was killed. I was asked to deliver this sad news to the family.
When Lois saw me coming up the walk, she later told me that a cold chill went down her spine. Something had happened. Opening the door she said, “Don has been in an accident, hasn’t he?” In a few seconds she knew the full story. She was crushed. It was not a happy household, and the shock of that news has put a cloud of sadness over the family that will not go away as long as they live. You don’t get over an experience like that. You simply adjust to it. However, even in her toughest hours there has been a joy in her heart. She held onto God’s promises. Don was in heaven by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and the Savior walks with her through tough times.
Yes, we come to church for a quiet time. It is in the quietness of God’s house that he assures us, “Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for he is with us.” It is during that quiet time the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word to strengthen our faith and create within us a joy that abides even when our little world may be falling apart.
Why did you come to church? This question could be a bit abrasive. Think about it. It’s not a bad question to ask ourselves each Sunday as we prepare to attend church.
We may not be able to minimize the difficult times people experience. However, if we walk with Christ, we can be assured that the sun will shine again, and he will put a joy in our hearts that will help us deal with our unhappiness.