(Based on a manuscript by Benjamin H. Spalink. Scripture quoted is from the NIV.)
I was confident that nowhere in the Bible did it say I should go to church.
But then I read Ephesians 4:11-13: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some
to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare
God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be
built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the
Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness
Then I wondered: If Christ gave pastors and teachers to prepare me for
works of service, shouldn’t I use them?
Then I read Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” And I realized that being together with other Christians is
how God intends to encourage me to do what is right.
Then I read Romans 10:13b-17: “…’Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can
they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in
the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone
preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is
written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all the
Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed
our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and
the message is heard through the word of Christ.” And I knew that Jesus sent these pastors and teachers to build my faith.
Then I read Matthew 16:18: “‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.'” And I discovered that Jesus built the church, owns it, and protects it.
Then I read Matthew 18:20: “‘For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.'” And I found that when His followers
gather to worship Him, He joins them.
Then I read Luke 4:16a: “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath
day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” And I discovered that Jesus himself was in the habit of attending church.
Then I read Luke 22:19: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'” And I found out that Jesus told us to use the Lord’s Supper to help us remember
that He died for our sins. If I stay away from church, I am also staying away from the
Lord’s Supper. I was convinced, but I wondered how I could convince my friends – I knew
what they would say about going to church: “If Jesus owns the church, why
can’t they agree? Why so many denominations?” I searched for some answers
to their objections and found this in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to
face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” And I knew that our inability to see Christ’s work clearly was the
reason for all these denominations. Some lean on one part of the Bible and others
lean on another. I also told my friends that what really counts is what you do
with Jesus. But I knew that my friends were really disgusted with how some of the
“regular” church members behaved. I didn’t have a good answer, because I also was hurt by things other members did.
But then I read Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just
as in Christ God forgave you.”
And I knew that forgiveness was so important to Jesus that He once told his followers
that if they refused to forgive others, then they would not be forgiven either. (Matthew 6:14-15)
Another of my friends said to me: “I don’t need others to have a relationship
with God. I can be a Christian by myself.” So I showed him what the Bible said in various parts of 1 Corinthians 12: “Now the body is not made up
of one part but of many…The eye cannot say
to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’…there should be no division in the body, but that
its parts should have equal concern for each other…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one
of you is a part of it.” Their final objection was the biggest: “We are too busy – Sunday is the only
chance we have to relax and enjoy ourselves.” I recognized it as a big issue because I felt this way myself at times.
Then I remembered what Jesus said about priorities:
“…others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries
of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come
in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18b-19) “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
See you in church!