Why should I go to church?
It’s a question that every Christian has asked at some point or another. Whether it’s because we’re sick, tired, having a hard time seeing the point, or at relational odds with someone there, we’ve all asked the question.
There are, of course, many ways to answer. The simplest is that we’re commanded to (Heb 10.24-25) and since our lives are not our own, but were bought with a price, we must obey. But for the Christian who wants to reflect on it more, there is much more to be said.
A few years ago I heard Matt Schmucker from 9 Marks say that absence from church (in an ongoing or regular sense) is either a result of sin or a gateway to sin. I wholeheartedly agreed with him on an anecdotal level. This was true of all people that I’ve known. But why is that?
GK Beale explains the theology behind it:
Worldliness is whatever any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness to be strange. When we imbibe the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age) of worldliness, then we feel strange trying to think Christianly and to act according to the Bible’s mandates. That is, when we think the world’s thoughts after it and do not think God’s thoughts after him, we will not be motivated to do the things that God wants us to do, but we will only feel comfortable acting in a manner that fits into the world’s way of doing things. That is why Christians who cease going to church begin to feel more and more comfortable in the world and less and less comfortable in the church. For the same reason, this is why regular attendance at church is so important. At church we worship by hearing God’s Word, praising God, praying, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and fellowshipping, all of which encourages believers and convinces them that they indeed are the ones who are normal and that the world is strange before God’s eyes. Believers need to encourage one another that, from the biblical perspective, it is normal for God’s people to reflect Christ and his behavior and not the world’s. 1
We need to be together in God’s presence, together beholding our God, together learning to think his thoughts, so that we can together become more conformed to his image. Withdrawal from the church and from church activities means increased exposure to the world. The more our eyes are filled with the world and its values, the more ‘normal’ it will seem to us and the more ‘strange’ holiness will seem.
As Beale says, we need to go to church so that we can remind each other that what God desires is normal, it is the world that is strange. And where else will you hear that message?
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- GK Beale, We Become What We Worship, 300 ↩