Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Singer Justin Bieber is well-known to millions of young people as a successful pop singer. In an article written several months ago, Justin Bieber was asked some questions about his faith and being a part of a church: “A lot of people who are religious, I think they get lost. They go to church just to go to church. I’m not trying to disrespect them but for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him. I don’t have to go to church.”
Many people think and believe just like Justin Bieber and that’s their choice. I’m not here to judge them or you. We each have to make our own decision on these type of matters. The question Does the church really matter? is an important one. And if you talk to people you are going to find people with many different viewpoints. Some who say that:
- your relationship with Christ is private and therefore you don’t really need the church and the community it provides
- Christians are a bunch of hypocrites
- they’ve been hurt by leaders / others in the church
- church doesn’t care about the things they care about
- church is too political / judgemental
- church is valuable if there is some intrinsic value found or some personal need met
- church is vital for growth as a disciple and for reaching those who are far from God.
Church—A Community of Believers
So again, I ask, Do I really need the church? Yes, I do I need church, because church reminds me of everything that’s important. And when I say church, I’m not talking about a building—I mean the people. I’m referring to the organic, collective, flesh-and-blood Body of Christ. I’m talking about the beautiful but undeniably imperfect community of people who help me remember who I am, and to Whom I belong, over and over again.
When I attend church on Sunday, I am mixing with people who are like me—struggling to understand who we are, and where we fit into the scheme of things. I can share with these people on a deep and meaningful level, that I can’t do anywhere else. Plus it’s enjoyable. It’s not a burden to attend each Sunday. I get so much out of it—and so would you.
I know many say, I would never go to church. It’s full of hypocrites. You may have said or thought that yourself. You’re right. There is far too much hypocrisy in the church. And there always has been. But it’s certainly not being condoned. An honest admission here may hopefully clear the air enough to make it evident that there are many men of integrity in the church, boldly crying out against hypocrisy today, You’re right—the church is not perfect. But Christ is. Fasten your eyes on him.
Cliffe Knechtle writes in his book Give Me an Answer:
We all either try to hide our bad sides or we try to make them look good. But deep inside we all know that we fall short of living the way we know we should. No one can escape the charge of “hypocrite”—no one except Jesus Himself. He is the only One who has lived up to God’s standards; the only One who has perfectly lived what He preached. Only through Christ can we escape the penalty due our hypocrisy… By living within the security of Christ’s love, we are free to peel off masks and to become real, honest people.
Ruth Bell Graham, the late wife of international evangelist Billy Graham, in her book Legacy of a Pack Rat, shared the true account of a young college student from India by the name of Pashi who once told her, “I would like to believe in Christ. We of India would like to believe in Christ. But we have never seen a Christian who was like Christ.” Ruth Graham said that when she consulted Dr Akbar Haqq about what might be the best response to Pashi’s challenge, Haqq answered decisively, “That is quite simple. I would tell Pashi, I am not offering you Christians. I am offering you Christ.”
Church—A Family of Christians
If you are a Christian you are part of God’s church and the church is your family. Wouldn’t you want to be part of it? It’s like someone who gets married, but never moves in with their spouse. It is true that you can be married without living together, and there may be extreme circumstances that you can think of where someone may get married and not live together (if someone is on their death bed for example). But a real marriage involves relationship. Becoming a Christian means being a part of God’s family.
At church we are loved, encouraged, strengthened and we find new friends. The Bible says to us there is a good habit of regularly going to church. Most of the time when we think of habits we think bad habits but there are good habits too. Some have developed the bad habit of missing church. Maybe you’ve gotten out of the habit or maybe you have yet to develop the habit of regular church attendance.
Sunday morning offers a lot of options. It offers the sleep-in option, it offers a brunch option, it offers the read-the-Sunday-paper option, and it offers all kinds of options having to do with recreation. Good habits bless your life and produce positive results. When you practice the good habit of regular church attendance you reap some very good outcomes.
The church is an encouraging place. We all need encouragement. Life is hard. Life is difficult. We all run into various kinds of challenges: health problems, financial issues, conflict within our families. We have an opportunity to encourage one another and that is part of what church is about. Sunday service is where fellowship begins.