Many have gotten used to not coming to meet with the Church. Sure we have our reasons, but even those seem to be getting shallower and shallower. It used to be, that you would have to be sick in order to miss (at least growing up at my house) and that didn’t mean a stuffy nose. Now, pretty much anything goes. If we make choices that result in having difficulty waking up, if we procrastinated and have deadlines looming, if we buy tickets to something – then we convince ourselves that it is a valid reason. What’s more is that some don’t even need a reason anymore. They have become so accustomed to “missing” that going to worship with other Christians isn’t even a thought. Periodically attending on a Sunday morning scratches the itch and they go on about their week until the next weekend. Why? Oh I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are mosquitoes in my back yard right now… but the reasons aren’t the issue.
The heart is.
Now before anyone gets upset, all those reasons I listed above aren’t cut and dry or missiles aimed at certain people. Furthermore, I am certainly not speaking from a legalistic perspective. I do not believe that missing for anything other than a high temperature AND throwing up is sin. However, I say that not really as a concession but more as a bunker buster because all too many excuses begin with the idea of “I’m not forsaking the assembly because…” – whether that is actually verbally stated or not. You and I both know that we don’t have to look far to see where that level of commitment and rationalization leads. People start making those kinds of choices… and then the natural result is that the close relationships that had been formed start having some space, and the passion that was focused on “the best for the church” now is split between other things. Sure those people still want what’s best for the Church and want to see us grow, but they aren’t involved in making that happen… and eventually they aren’t around anymore. The analogy that has always stood out to me about this idea of commitment is the coal in a fire. When it is with the other coals, it’s red hot! You wouldn’t dare touch it! And if you take that coal out of the fire and sit it a few feet away, it’s still just as hot and will ignite anything else that it can… for a while. However as we all know, time away changes the coal. As the fire continues to rage, that coal on the side begins to cool off. In fact the longer it’s by itself, the cooler it becomes. Eventually you can even pick it up with your bare hands and not be burned.
Christians are much the same way. When we are together and seeking God’s will… loving one another and thinking of each other’s best interests… we are like that raging fire! But if you split one of us off, even returning it periodically to the fire for a short time here and there- that flame and intensity dies out. Now mentally we may still see ourselves as a red-hot coal, and we want to be on fire for the Lord. We want his blessing and everything that is promised, but we also notice that things aren’t working out and we just don’t feel right. So we look for fixes. We blame others or we look for lighters or other sources to jump start us again… or we think that moving elsewhere is what we need to do. When the reality is that what we need is to be back with the Lord’s people! What we need is to stop going our own way and be where God intended us to be!
So what are we to do? This isn’t a perfect list but it’s a great place to start:
- Make a commitment – no matter what happens, I am going to do my best to be around my Church family because God tells me that I need them and they need me.
- Get involved – invest yourself. You will have a much easier time seeing the importance of being here if you are more than a spectator. After all, God has given you those gifts and abilities… so how are you using them?
- Choose to connect – don’t come expecting some kind of magical connection, find some people and choose to be their friend (yes I said people… not person). Seek them out every time we come together, ask how they are doing, be genuinely interested in them and see what God does! We have the opportunity to be a family… but it takes more that your presence for that to happen. It takes your physical and emotional commitment.
I pray that we all make those 3 commitments today so that we can all strive together for the prize.
In Him, Jay