Why Go to Church?

COVID guidance is changing! Yeah!! At Trinity you don’t have to mask, and the changes made me think, “Why go to church?” The weekend is coming, and 30 years ago, especially for Lutherans, it meant going to church. Lent begins this week, and I can remember, as a kid, attending service every Wednesday in Lent. Now, for most of you reading my article, you may be looking forward to Sunday worship, especially as all of the COVID restrictions that we’ve had to endure over the past 2 years seem to be waning.

Nonetheless, I think it’s absolutely fascinating that these days many people may be thinking: “Why even bother going to church this Sunday…I don’t really know any of those people, and those I do know, I saw during the week. What would I get out of spending an hour sitting in a pew? Wouldn’t I be better off watching the game with friends, helping someone in need, shopping, finishing some work or spending time with the family?

Connecting with people, family, helping those in need, doing some necessary tasks or just resting are all necessary things, but it’s good for us to ask what happens if we prioritize them above God himself–if we give good things God’s position? Lent, in our Lutheran confession, calls us to:  “keep the focus of our lives of faith on Jesus, our Lord, and to learn more of Him and His loving plan of salvation for us.” All of the good activities of our lives should flow from a life-giving connection with Christ and his people. God alone is preeminent (Colossians 1:18). We don’t want the good things He’s given us to become idols. So, I thought to fuel the fire of your faith this Lent, by sharing two good reasons to go to church on Sunday.

1. To remind each other who Jesus is and what He’s done for us

Our view of Jesus and his church is often filtered through historical, political, and cultural lenses. The night before His crucifixion the Lord said to His disciples, “And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:4, NKJV). Honest Thomas replied with an epic confession that we all need to make: “No, we don’t know, Lord! We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:5-6 (NLT).

One time someone told me, “I don’t need to read the Bible, I’ve heard all those stories before.” Had I thought quicker in the moment, I would have said something simple like, “Why didn’t you listen to them the first time?”

How could we, as mere mortal human beings, ever fully understand the mystery of: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, NKJV). In the book of Acts, verse 12:24 is very interesting: “The word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers” (NLT). It equates hearing the message with new faith. It’s not so much learning information, but learning to lean more on Christ. That’s a work in progress, and the truth is that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).

2. To remind each other who we are and whose we are.

In a world offering a multiplicity of viewpoints, there is one place where people can find truth (John 8:26). The church is a lighthouse in an ethical fog (Matthew 5:14–16). I am blind to my own blindness, and I need the perspective of others, whom God uses, to further me along the road to Christ-likeness. Will this process ever be complete? According to God’s design, fellowship with each other (or the communion of the saints, as in the Apostles’ Creed) is an eternal blessing.

Many see the church as producing cookie-cutter people who follow a human tradition. Rather, the body of Christ is a living organism. God made all of us different and unique. He has a good plan and purpose for each of us, and for all of us together. Together, we “speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its’ own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (EPH 4:15-16, NLT)

See you Sunday!

Pastor Shawn

* Quoted from https://witness.lcms.org/2008/keeping-a-holy-lent-2-2008/