And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Why do you go to church? James Kelley is part of a small group that is very faithful in their church attendance. James is a former lawyer who lives in Washington, D.C. Kelley says about his church attendance and his group, "We all love the incense, the stained glass windows, the organ music, the vestments, and all of that. It's drama. It's aesthetics. It's the ritual. That's neat stuff.”
If you go to church, and that is a big if since many do not attend regularly, why do you attend? Do you attend for the ritual, drama and
aesthetics like James Kelley? Do you attend because your friends do? Do you attend because of the business contacts you can make? Do you attend because you like the social activities? Do you attend because you don’t have anything better to do? Do you attend because your parents make you? Do you attend because your wife or your husband insists that you do so?
Would you keep on attending church even if you were not a Christian? Apparently, some people do and they actually know that they are not
Christians! Hard to believe isn’t it? Why would someone do that? Possibly for any of the reasons above (I’ve heard all of them.) or many others. James Kelley is among those non-believers who continue to attend church. James says about his church attendance, “I don't want to give all that up just because I don't believe in God.”
The number one reason we should want to attend church if we are a Christian is: We are commanded to do so. Hebrews 10:24-25 is not a suggestion it is a command. To forsake the assembling together with other believers is a sinful act. There is simply no way around this if we believe the Bible to be true. We are not to pick and choose parts of the Bible that we happen to like to be obedient to - the Bible does not come in optional sections.
Here is another reason for attending church if we are believers: Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Do you remember the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that were unexpectedly joined on their journey by the risen Lord Jesus? What did they say later about Jesus being present with them? "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us (Luke 24:32)?” We cannot experience church setting at home in front of a television. We can watch the service but if we are honest, we know that it is not the same.
Increased effectiveness in prayer is another reason for attending church as we are told in Matthew 18:19, "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
An opportunity to praise God is an excellent reason to gather together with other believers and we are told in Psalm 22:3, “But You are holy, enthroned (inhabitest - KJV) in the praises of Israel.”
Increased faith is also a good reason to attend as Romans 10:17 indicates, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In every Bible believing church the Word of God is opened, read, and expounded whenever the local body of believers assembles.
Of course, the reason indicated in Hebrews 10:24 is of vital importance. We are to “stir up” or as it is sometimes translated, “provoke” unto love and good works. We are much like a tire with a slow leak or a car that must be refueled after being driven so many miles. Over the course of a week we deflate, we run out of gas. Meeting together, we encourage one another and are spiritually refueled/inflated for another week.
You may have other reasons believers should assemble together. Regardless of the spiritual reason, I think we can agree that church attendance is something that we cannot afford to skip.
Copyright © 2004. Ed Wrather. Used with Permission. On June 8, 1998 the email version of the Burning Bush Devotional was first sent.