13 August 2017

Four Reasons to Attend Church

It is no secret that contemporary Western culture emphasizes personal preference and an individualism that leads to isolation. Because culture can be deeply influential, many Christians happen to think of church and their religion in ways that are not according to Holy Scripture but the "wisdom" of the age in America, Canada, Norway, and other lands. We see this in the empty and nearly empty pews in the sanctuary. In this post I shall share four reasons rooted in Scripture that Christians should faithfully attend church on Sundays.

Saint Anna Church. Switzerland. Original photo by Roland zh. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Third Commandment

Christians should attend church because Sunday is our day to sanctify. On the first table of the Decalogue God wrote these words: Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. (Ex 20:8, NRSV) For Christians this is not about ceasing from all labour from Friday evening to Saturday evening as in Judaism. For Christians the third commandment is about setting aside a day to make holy, for ourselves, by hearing God's word and the preaching of it. Although every day is a day to receive His word and privately worship Him, Christians are not meant to neglect meeting together (Heb 10:24–25), hence there is the weekly hearing of God's word and the public worship of Him on the day that the Church set aside for it long ago: Sunday.

The Living Bread

Those who believe in Jesus should attend church because He wants to give them His body and blood. Our Lord said, "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54, ASV) At the Last Supper He gave bread and wine to His disciples and said it was His body and blood and thereby instituted the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for the Church that night. It has since been our practice for generations to receive and consume those things during public worship on Sundays. Just as Jesus distributed His body and blood in the forms of bread and wine to His disciples, pastors repeat His words of institution and distribute the same body and blood in the forms of bread and wine to those who gather.

Not Islands

Being a Christian is not like being a deist or an agnostic. Christianity is not a personal persuasion that a person subscribes to. Scripture teaches that we who belong to Jesus Christ are limbs of a body (Eph 4:15–16), not islands. We are sisters and brothers, friends, and the communion of saints (Eph 2:19). St. Peter wrote that we are "a chosen race," "a royal priesthood," "a holy nation," and "God's own people." (1 Pet 2:9) The communal nature of the Church is a reflection of God as Trinity whereas the individual who personally subscribes to deism, for instance, naturally reflects Creator as the solitary one. What we are as Christians is manifest when we come to church to be with each other and worship our God. How unfitting it is then that we neglect to meet together!

Being Homeward Bound

As Christians we believe that we are destined to live in our true home, namely, the kingdom of God forever and ever (Heb 11:16). When we get there is a matter of time. It could be that you will die and enter Heaven and be with God. It could be that you will never die but rather Christ will come and bring the kingdom with Him. How wonderful and nice the kingdom will be is beyond our comprehension! In spite of its distance in time, we obtain a glimpse of it when we gather at church. At church we are with our true family who love God and await a world of peace and righteousness and joy. We should come to church to be with each other and sing hymns to our God because the destiny we share is to live in His kingdom as one people who will gloriously sing of His honour and might.

Let us make weekly attendance of church our habit. If it already is our habit, let us maintain such a fine habit! All of us who gather will keep the third commandment, receive Christ intimately, be who we really are, and obtain a glimpse of what our blessed hope will be like.

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