Gus Missed Church Last Week

I have been preaching “full-time” for twenty-one years. Before that I preached every Sunday at three different churches for eight years. Before that I preached at “home” for two years. Every place (allow me to call your attention to this—“every place”) I have preached has had those folks who deliberately missed some services altogether. I am not talking about those brethren who are weak or lacking in knowledge. I am not talking about those brethren who are “providentially hindered” by circumstances beyond their control. I am talking about brethren who deliberately (deliberately meaning with full presence of mind, pre-determined) do not attend some services altogether. This addresses those who never come on Sunday night or Wednesday night. It includes those who never attend a VBS or a Gospel Meeting. As for Sunday morning, they attend occasionally, provided something else doesn’t draw them away. That’s who I mean in this article.

Here is an example (all the names are fictitious). Gus was a member “on the books” at the Bat Hollow Church of Christ over near Lost River. Gus attended only on Sunday morning—well, he usually attended on Sunday morning—no, he occasionally attended on Sunday morning. That was it for Gus and yet he considered himself faithful. He did not see anything wrong with his frequency of attendance. Gus woke last Sunday morning about 7 AM. Gus remained under the covers for a while and glanced at the bedroom clock. “The brethren meet for worship at 10:30 this morning” thought Gus. Of course, the brethren had been meeting at 10:30 AM for about fifty or sixty years. Gus noticed how the Sun was shining so brightly outside promising a real nice day. Winter was officially gone now. Gus thought about this for a while and how it cheered him up now that winter was over and nice warm weather was here. He traipsed off to the kitchen and fixed a cup of coffee and looked out the window. “It sure is nice out.” Gus’ gaze fell on his four-wheeler under the tarp next to the shed. “I think I’ll see if I can get it started.” Gus hurried up and began working on the four-wheeler. Soon he had it running just fine. It was about 9 AM now. Gus made a decision. “I think I will take her for a spin. I can always go to church next Sunday. It’s so nice today and maybe it will be raining next week and I’ll go then.” Gus climbed on the four-wheeler and off he went. About 10:40 AM Gus wheeled past the Bat Hollow building. “Doesn’t look like there are too many there today” he thought as he blistered on down the road.

Do you see the point here? Let me ask you to focus your attention on Gus’ attitude, not on the four-wheeler. The four-wheeler isn’t the problem here. The type of attitude that is exhibited by the fictitious Gus is what I am addressing. This isn’t a case of weakness or lack of understanding. Gus missing church services to ride his four-wheeler was a deliberate, pre-meditated act. He knew what he should do and did not do it. What would that be, according to the Scriptures?

It has been my experience that folks like Gus can hear Hebrews 10:25 read, preached and explained and it will be like so much of the proverbial water off a duck’s back. This verse is either ignored or it is believed (erroneously) that it is being obeyed. Anyway, I have too often found my efforts in using this good verse to be frustrated. That doesn’t mean that Hebrews 10:25 is a bad verse or it shouldn’t be used. I don’t mean that at all. I simply mean that experience has shown me that when it is used the hearers turn off the receivers (become dull of hearing, Heb. 5:11) and pay no attention. Somehow they just do not think it applies to them. Occasionally folks like Gus will make a defense of their actions. They will say that Hebrews 10:25 only requires attendance one time per week and that would be during the service on Sunday morning where the Lord’s Supper is served. I just wish that those folks like Gus who make this argument would at least do that much! Unfortunately, they make such an argument and then don’t even comply with their own argument. Gus sure wasn’t keeping his doctrine when he zipped past the Bat Hollow building on his four-wheeler.

I think there is something else that fits folks like Gus. Maybe this will stir up a little thinking on the subject. I notice this in James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” So Gus knew where he was supposed to be—at Bat Hollow. However, he chose to ride his four-wheeler instead. So, what is that? James here says it is sin. That’s right, and when other things are chosen and you do not do what you should do—that is, meet with the brethren—then that is sin. Remember we are not talking about the weak or those with lack of knowledge. We are talking about those who know better and deliberately, with pre-meditation, chose to miss. Folks, that is sin.

By Terry Sanders

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