It’s Saturday night as I write this. It’s been a rainy afternoon … a kind of dreary nap-inducing time to tell the truth. It is the summer and many of my brothers and sisters are on the road vacationing and visiting family. I don’t blame them and look forward to some travels soon myself. Every Sunday morning we have a number of people (sometimes a large number!) who simply decide not to come to church that day. I get it. You’ve had a hard week and you’re facing a brutal Monday morning. Maybe you don’t feel very good or you have some spiritual need you’re wrestling with right now. I’m writing this for the people who just arbitrarily decide that church is not that important today. Maybe all of these won’t ‘fit’ you, but please consider the ones that do.
1. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Love. I know you don’t have to go to church to show love to your brothers and sisters, but it stands to reason that when they are all gathered together you have an excellent chance to share the love of Christ with others! Jesus has expressed such love for us in both his sacrifice at the cross and in His grace that saves us. When we love we are doing so in His name. Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
2. You Will Miss the Opportunity to be Loved. Did you notice in Romans 12:10 that phrase, “mutual affection”? Then the instruction to try to “outdo one another” in a good way! When the focus is on loving and being loved, you don’t want to miss out on that. Many is a Sunday when I really don’t feel like being at worship, but then people start showing love and my spirits are revived!
3. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Experience Diverse Relationships. The church is a diverse group of people. Sometimes this can create challenging situations. However, sometimes it can bring a lot of joy. When we ‘live in harmony’ that means we are singing different notes to the same song! Worshiping together with a diverse group gives us opportunity to put others first and rid ourselves of destructive pride. Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.”
3. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Extend a Welcome! Romans 15:7 says, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Not everyone at church will be the old familiar faces. There will be new faces. Sometimes these are hurting people trying to find a connection to God. What a blessing it is to make someone feel at home, to welcome them into the Lord’s Assembly. Romans 16:16 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” A holy handshake as a greeting is good too!
4. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Hear a Needed Instruction. Romans 15:14 says, ” I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.” When we study the Word together we often hear insights that we did not have when we were studying on our own. The messages shared in classes and sermons and even good spiritual conversations might be a way that God is shedding some light on our path through life. Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to, “…exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Do you think that by staying away from the assembly we may become more hardened to the deceitfulness of sin?
5. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Care. 1 Corinthians 12:25 instructs members to “have the same care for one another.” Many times prayer requests are shared and each one of those not only gives us the privilege to pray, but also to respond in compassion. Maybe there’s something you can do to bless a hurting member of your church, but you won’t know about it if you are not present at the assembly. Maybe one day that person will be you, and you’ll need the care of others. Perhaps in caring for someone who is visiting or showing love to someone who is weak in faith you may be the reason someone gives their life to Christ!
6. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Serve. Galatians 6:2 tells us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Jesus told us that when we serve the ‘least of these’ we are serving him. When we bear one another’s cares and troubles we are fulfilling the law of Christ. What a terrible thing to neglect by our absence!
7. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Mend a Broken Relationship. Ephesians 4:31-32 reminds us that our brothers and sisters in Christ are not to be at war, fighting one another … but instead forgiving when there has been a disagreement or problem. It is to be so thorough a repair to our relationships that it is comparable to the way God has forgiven us in Christ. “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
8. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Sing to One Another! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God (Colossians 3:16).” You might not think you’re a great singer, but every voice adds to the beautiful orchestra of the Body of Christ. In the songs we sing there is wisdom and teaching. Singing together is something we almost always do only at the assembly – unless you’re one of those who breaks out in song every chance you get!
9. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Grow in Love. We are to be growing in our love for one another. Although they say, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, I don’t believe it! How can we grow in our love for one another and not be around one another when we are worshiping our King? 2 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
10. You Will Miss the Opportunity to Develop a Good Habit! Consistent church attendance is one of the greatest habits you can develop and also help your children develop. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that some people develop the opposite talent. (“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”) Instead of staying away from the assembly, it is true that we all have a job to do when we gather together.
There are many more reasons to gather with the church at each assembly. But the truth is that we will not likely find time to obey the commands of Scripture that relate to “one another” if we are in the habit of staying away from the church gathered. No church is perfect and maybe you’ve had your feelings hurt or you can see the faults of others very clearly. If I read the above Scriptures correctly that is your cue to demonstrate the love of Christ to those who are not what they should be. Help make the church what it ought to be, if it is falling short in some area. The church is made up of individuals – and you are one of those!
I hope this is an encouragement to you to worship with your church family next time they gather. Maybe print it out and have it handy to read when you’re feeling a little down about being with God’s Family. Thank you for reading! JD