A couple of years ago, when we started looking to move, I had one requirement: we had to get up high enough in elevation that we would be able to get some snow from time to time. I love the snow, seriously, love it! And I really missed it, because we rarely get snow in the “valley” around S.W. Washington. Well, when we moved into grandpa’s old house, it met that requirement, 1040′. Woohoo!
On New Years eve and New Years day, we got some snow. Over 8″ of it! And it has been awesome. Since New Years Day fell on a Sunday morning, I got up and plowed the driveway and cleared off the Suburban so we could get to church. I was expecting there to be some snow down in town, but to my surprise, there wasn’t. None at all.
I guess that’s not entirely true, because there was some…on the top of our car. We still had 3-4 inches that had clung to the top of our car the whole drive in. I finally got to be the guy I hated. You know the one who drove down from his house in the mountains with 15″ of snow on top of his vehicle.
Well, on Tuesday morning I cleaned the snow off my car and drove it in. It was cold in town, so that snow remained on my car when I drove home after food pantry. But when I drove in on Wednesday, there has been just enough sun and wind and my fast driving to pretty much clear the snow off the car.
This week I’ve been leaving the beautiful, snow covered hills and coming down to the snowless roads and parking lots of Vancouver.
And it got me thinking. That’s a lot like Christians and the need for going to church. And that leads me to reason #1.
#1 – It’s hard to shine the light of God’s love into the darkness of a fallen world when we DO attend every Sunday. It’s so much harder when we aren’t there.
Imagine with me, if you will, that snow is kind of like what happens to us each Sunday. We come together and we rally toward the mission God has placed on each of our lives. We may have come into the service worn and tired. Hopefully we leave a little more charged up for another week of mission. It’s like we come to church and get a little more covered with snow.
Then we go out into the world. And the sun and wind and rain all start to melt the snow away. It gets harder and harder to shine for Christ as the week goes on. Then, Sunday rolls around and we don’t feel like getting out of bed. So we don’t. We stay home. But, Monday is still coming, whether we like it or not and we’re going to have to try to shine for Christ. We think staying home is what we need, but the reality is that it was the opposite.
What we needed was to get to church and get a fresh coat of snow. Instead we stayed home, and we have less and less snow to show as we go through the next week. We miss another week of church, and there’s hardly any snow at all.
(Don’t read too much theology into this illustration. I’m not saying you lose your salvation if you don’t come to church. Though, that is something we should talk about at some point. However, this is just an illustration)
If the mission of your life was to show the world your snow, wouldn’t it be good to go to the place where you could get that snow to show?
But that’s not the only reason. There are more…
#2 – How can the body be the body when parts of the body are missing?
Too often, our thinking about church is driven by selfish thinking. We decided whether or not we are going to go to church based on what we think we are going to get out of it. If we think it’s going to be a good week, with good “worship” and a good sermon – we’ll be there. But, if we catch wind that someone we don’t like is preaching, we’ll skip out. I know this from my own selfish tendencies.
When was that last time you thought about church as service? Not the kind you attend, but the kind you do? Do you think about how your attendance is actually serving your brothers and sisters in Christ? Because it is! You are a part of the body. And without your part, something is literally missing. You may not know everyone or be able to encourage everyone. But there are some whom you know and some whom you encourage. Just like in our body, it’s all the parts joined together that make the body. But, not every part is literally connected to the others. We are all connected in the sense of being the body. But just like your “shin bone is connected the knee bone,” the “shoulder bone” isn’t connected to the shin or knee. Your role may only affect one or two others around you, but, without you, a critical piece is missing.
#3 – You’re missing out on being in the presence of the God of the universe.
There is something special that happens when God’s people gather to worship Him, hear from Him and be in His presence. Yes, God is always with us. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. So that means God is always with us. It’s amazing. But, there’s something more that happens when all of us gather together who have that same spirit living in us. The Bible tells us to meet together. Actually, the Bible uses stronger language than that. It says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Heb 10:24-25.
If we could do this whole God-thing on our own, there wouldn’t have been so much emphasis on community in the early church. If we could live this life, shine this light in the way we are supposed to without other believers around us, God would have made it clear. God would have told us, go and do this on your own. You don’t need anyone around you. You are an island.
But that’s not the case. We need each other. The life and mission we have been given are too important to miss out on the very thing that was created to fuel our drive towards completing that mission.
You may not have a “great worship experience” and you might not hear an “amazing sermon.” But, you are gathered together in unity with others who have the same Spirit in them – the Spirit of the living God. The Spirit of Truth. And if you allow Him to, He will speak truth to you. He may speak it during the singing. He may speak it during the sermon. He might speak it during a conversation or prayer you are sharing before or after the service. He may share it while you serve with the kids. But, He will speak the truth you need to hear.
As we start of a new year together, would you consider the ways in which you might need to bolster your commitment to your church community? I can say with confidence, whatever you invest in this community in the coming year will be returned to you. And much more. This could be the very thing that will make the biggest impact on your life in 2017.