Why Do You Go To Church?

23 May

At the core of this question are two words: Giving & Receiving.  Depending on which one is your focus when you go to a public service of worship, your answer to the title question will differ.

I am of the belief that we go to church, primarily, to receive, not to give. What do I believe we receive in going to church?  I believe we (Christians who have received the Gospel in repentance and faith) go to church to receive the grace of God–through the sacraments, the singing of songs, and the preaching of the Word of God–to strengthen, refresh, heal, comfort, encourage, and preserve us as we seek to live to the glory of God in obedience to our King, Jesus.

Baptism is a visible representation of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in us–putting us to death in and with Christ, and raising us up with Him in newness of life–and marks us as covenant members of the church.

The Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist, etc.) is the means of grace by which we remember the atoning work of Christ for us upon the cross, in which His body was broken and blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.  When we partake of the bread and the cup, we are reminded of our union with Christ, and thus, renewed and refreshed by the grace of God.  We also do it as a congregation, reminding us of our unity in Christ with all His people from all tribes, tongues and nations.

Through the preaching of the Word of God, we continue to be reminded of God’s Gospel and of who we are in Christ, bringing healing to the hurting, strength to the weak, encouragement and joy to the downcast, and hope to the hopeless.  And in light of the Gospel, our union with Christ, and newness of life in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are instructed as to how to live in obedience to King Jesus, according to God’s creative design of man, and to His glory.

In singing, we offer up the only reasonable response to having received such amazing grace in Christ.  We find God awakening our affections towards Him and His mighty works. We could say the same thing about the offering of our money.  It is the only reasonable response to what we have received from God in Christ.

So what’s the point?  Why spend time articulating these things? Because I think we oftentimes view going to church as our act of giving to God.  We view it as our time in the week to give Him what we’re called to give: money, worship, time, etc.  And when we view it this way, I think we rob the public gathering of God’s people of a richer, deeper purpose.  I believe it makes church into whatever we want it to be.  If we want it to be a means of drawing in young people and evangelizing them, its takes on a different form than if we view it as a social club for a group of people.  Or if we want it to be a means of entertaining people, it will look different than if we intend it to be a place for the poor, broken, homeless, suffering to have their physical needs met.  Yet, each of these misses the idea of coming to church, primarily, to receive from God.

In 1 Timothy 6:12, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, saying, “Fight the good fight of the faith.”  And like in any good fight, we need the breaks between rounds to get water, to breath in deeply the air our muscles need, and to rinse out the spit from our mouths.  That is what a Sunday service is for.  Likewise, Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

As ultra-marathon runners, we need the way stations along the way to refresh us and recharge us for the miles ahead. That is why we go to church.

And more than any other reason, I believe we go to church to receive from God because that is what brings Him the most delight and glory.  I believe He enjoys giving to His children, and that when they gather and acknowledge their need for the things He gives, that brings the greatest glory to His name.  More so than anything we could ever give Him, the grace which He continually gives to people like us, glorifies Him supremely.  Not to mention the fact that is satisfies, and brings joy to, us.

Oh! What a Savior! Oh! What a God! He is so Good, oh, so good to us!


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