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Faith for today: Attending church

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By The Staff

Is it possible to be a Christian and yet not go to church? That seems to be one of the most common questions I hear in Spencer Co. I hope you can handle frankness because space does not allow easing into the subject. I’ll answer that question in stages. First, the New Testament never considers the possibility that someone could be devoted to Jesus and yet have little or no devotion to Jesus’ other followers. “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother,” 1John 3:10. If love is easy – just a pleasant attitude toward someone – then maybe you could love your brother without meeting with him weekly. But the standard for Christian love is much higher. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers,” 1John 3:16. In other words, meeting together weekly with fellow believers does not save you, but anyone who truly is saved by faith in Jesus will be inclined to meet together with fellow believers to love them very practically.

Another issue is that Hebrews 10:24-25 commands Christians to meet together regularly: “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.” How can you be devoted to Jesus and blatantly refuse to obey this plain command? Notice that meeting together with other believers is for the purpose of stirring up one another to love and good works. We come together – not to sing, listen, and ignore one another. We come together to notice one another, to help each other apply the gospel to our lives – in love and a lifestyle of good works.

A final issue I’ll mention is safety. The Bible often compares God’s people to sheep, who are protected by a Shepherd and who must stay together as one flock. Jesus talks about individuals who slip away from the group – whether because they were offended by the group or because they are chasing sin (see all of Matthew 18). He encourages his followers to go after the wandering sheep because Jesus himself wants to protect those sheep. The love and accountability that you get from committing yourself as an active member in a church – these are some of the main tools that Jesus uses to keep you in the faith, in the flock, and on the path that leads to life.

With these little truths on the table, I would return to the original question with a question in response: How do you plan to be a Christian throughout life without doing it the way Jesus told us to do it? The idea that someone might be able to be a Christian without being involved in a church – this idea does not come from God. It might point to serious rebellion against Jesus himself.

Faith for Today is designed to provide Christians with Biblical answers to worldly questions.