Sunday mornings are one of my absolute favorite days of the week! Being together with other believers, worshiping God…it refreshes, builds me up and encourages me. It is the perfect time for me to hear from God, to allow Him to work through me to strengthen others and for Him to give me strength for the week ahead.
But, I’ll be honest…I haven’t always felt that way. There have been times in my life that I have had to make a choice. Am I going to continue to go somewhere where I’ve been hurt?
You know, it’s funny. A few months ago I realized…the enemy has tried several times to get me to make the decision NOT to go to church anymore. The very first time I remember was when I was a teenager. I was sitting in the pew waiting for the pastor to come up and start his message. I reached under where I was seated and got my purse. I sat up and for some reason [I honestly don’t remember why], I looked in my wallet. There was no money. This was especially a big deal because I had a job and knew I had money in my wallet. I knew specifically how much should’ve been there. It turned out the teenager in the pew behind me took the money from my wallet. Really? Shouldn’t church be a place you can trust people? Even though I ended up getting the money back, the situation…it stung…it left an imprint…and left me with a choice. Do I want to continue going to church?
Within a few years…again sitting in those same pews, I listened as my pastor went up to the pulpit and proceeded to read a letter to the congregation. A letter to let us all know he was stepping down from ministry. He was getting a divorce… and another couple in the church were also getting a divorce. They then married each other’s ex’s. Kind-of a marriage swap of sorts that left many of us heartbroken and confused. As a teenager, there were a lot of things that went through my mind. One of them was, why even go to church?
Fast forward to my early 30’s. My husband and I were part of a church that we truly loved. I had grown so much in my faith over the years and thought things were going great…but it happened again. Our pastor “fell”. And by that I mean, he was found to have committed adultery. Everything we thought “was”, really wasn’t. Good night. In the days and weeks that followed, I found myself having to answer more tough questions. Why did the betrayal hurt so bad? Where was my trust? In man or in God?
Believe me, I’ve asked myself many questions over the years like “Why keep going to church? Why?” “Can’t I just read my Bible from home?” “I still believe, but man…the hurt…”
Despite the hurt I’ve experienced over the years, I truly see the amazing gift it is to GET to go to church. I made a choice to go. And I now count it a blessing to be able to be with other believers, to learn from them, to worship with them, to encourage each other.
Why do I go to church?
I go to church because I realize church is a place where imperfect people go to worship a perfect God. I go to church because I know it will encourage me. [Hebrews 10:25] I go to church because I get to worship God, not the pastor or the leadership. I go to church because where 2 or 3 come together in Christ’s name, He is there too…and I for sure want to be where He is! [Matthew 18:20] I go to church because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! [2 Corinthians 3:17]
I know for sure, I’ve been at a crossroads before…where I had a choice to make. Do I sit at home, stay away from the one thing that could make me stronger? OR Do I take a chance, find a healthy church body and become an active member of that body?
Romans 12:4-5 “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.” [TLB]
Let me encourage you, say “Yes!” to God. When you are around other believers, it builds you up. It challenges you. When you’re in worship and your heart is focused on Christ, there is peace. Not to mention you may just be changed in the most amazing way. I remember when I gave my life to Jesus and really understood it. I was a confused early 20 something…and God touched my life in that church service. He changed me for all eternity. If I had made a different decision, not to go to church anymore because of hurt…my life would be completely different. And not in a good way.
What’s holding you back? If you haven’t been to church in a while, or never been to a church service, allow me to challenge you…the church may be filled with imperfect people…but it is also filled with The Almighty God. And it’s filled to the brim with second chances…for you and for me. Just like Romans says, we are ALL part of the body of Christ…and it takes every one of us, because we’ve each been gifted for something different. You make a difference. Christ in you makes a difference. You in the church, it makes a difference. What are you waiting for?