Why do we go to church?
The unchurched neighbor might say, “People who go to church are religious and believe it is one of the commandments that God has given to them. It certainly is a good habit, and it wouldn’t hurt our family to go more often. However, neither my wife nor I came from families who went to church.”
How would you as a regular church attender answer the question? Here would be some of the reasons:
1. To fellowship with some close friends.
2. To learn what is going on within the congregation.
3. To share joys and sorrows.
These are very important reasons. However, the basic reason to go to church is to hear the Word of God.
What does God have to say to me and the congregation?
Our text today in Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23 talks about the farmer sowing the seed. It is a parable referring to faith being sown in the hearts of those hearing the Word of God.
God speaks to us through His Word proclaimed in music. We hear the choir sing Beautiful Savior as arranged by F. Melius Christianson. God is the “King of Creation” and “Son of God and Son of Man.” We sing Luther’s reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The seed is being planted when we sing, “What though they take this life, goods, honor, child, and wife. Their hatred still is vain, they have no lasting gain. We still possess the Kingdom.” And then in a more contemporary style we join and sing, “There is a Redeemer. Thank you oh my Father, for giving us your Son, Leaving your Spirit, Till the work on earth is done.”
As we continue in our worship, the Word is read and proclaimed. The pastor has been working on the text, praying to God, and asking Him for guidance as he stands before the congregation assembled for worship. He must feed the believers on the Bread of Life, and yet remember the many who have yet to receive Christ Ð the seekers, respecters, and those who have no interest in Christianity. The seed is being planted Ð the basic reason for going to church.
In this parable, Jesus helps us understand that many kinds of hearers need to hear His voice. One man is depicted in the text as sitting in the congregation and not understanding what is being said. The evil one snatches away what is sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. He is the 30-year-old man to whom I preached one Sunday morning who had never attended a worship service in his life.
Another worshiper is the person who receives the seed that fell on rocky places. He hears the Word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, he is gone. Sometimes he is referred to as the “new Christian.”
The one who received the Word that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. This person is busy. He has been convinced that material possessions deliver happiness. How many wives have warned their husbands that the family needed more of him, and still his defense was, “Look at the standard of living we have. If we want all of these things, I have to work.” The poor man, in his confused thinking, has not even had time for God. Mother takes the children to church alone. All the while the children are building the impression that church is not all that important. If it were, Dad would be with them in church.
However, not all the planting is in vain. Some seed fell on good soil. This man who hears the Word and understands it, trusts Christ as his Savior. The Lord lives in his life, and whether it be in his work, with his family, or in his social life, he is a witness in word or deed for his Savior.
The seed is being planted in our lives today. Each one of us has an “up-to-date report” on which seed describes our life. The benefit of this sermon will be whether or not we take time to honestly appraise our relationship with Christ. Where do we stand with God? This is why the Holy Spirit speaks to us in this parable. It is time for us to make an honest evaluation.
Why do we go to church?