The following story has been around for years and tells a good tale. "A church-goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. 'I've gone for 30 years now,' he wrote, 'and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the preachers are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.' This started a real controversy in the 'Letters to the Editor' column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: 'I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this. They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!'"
It is clear the moral of the story is the purpose and design of church attendance. So often people come to church services year after year and receive no benefits at all. Many see no reason to attend and come when the notion strikes them or something insignificant does not hinder their walking through the front doors. Church attendance is monitored with numbers on a board and while there may be 222 Sunday morning there will only be 135 on Sunday night. Is church attendance really the issue? Is not coming to church the real concern? Have we created a system of theology based more on sitting in a pew than putting our hearts before the throne of God?
Attendance to "church services" on Sunday is not something suggested by the Lord; it is commanded. As the Jews under the Law were instructed to "remember the Sabbath" those today who claim to be followers of Christ are commanded to remember the sacrifice of the Son of God in communion. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper He said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me . This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Paul goes on to say, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Church attendance is not about attending church. Assembling on the first day of the week is about our love and devotion to Jesus Christ. When we forsake the gathering of saints on the first day of the week because we do not feel up to getting out the door; we have a job that keeps us from the worship; WE DON'T CARE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST! This is not about those who have serious health issues - THIS IS ABOUT THOSE WHO CONTINUALLY, HABITUALLY FAIL TO ASSEMBLE ON A REGULAR BASIS WITH THE SAINTS OF GOD!
We moan and groan with our little aches and pains and silly issues that we just can't make it out to sit for an hour in church. Going to the mall or Wal-Mart or work and a ball game is allowable but the excruciating pain and misery of having to sit in a church building for an hour - well the Lord will just have to understand. HE DOES - "Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:29-31).
All the excuses we use when we fail to assemble with the saints are going to be so flimsy when we stand before the I AM. It is then we will have wished we would have changed jobs, had a better attitude toward worship and done many things to remember the death of Jesus - but it will be too late. The Lord we despised on earth in failing to partake of the supper of sacrifice will now be our Judge. As the Hebrew writer said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
The reason I gather with the saints for Bible class on Sunday and Wednesday is because I love the Lord and I love my brethren. The reason I assemble on the first day of the week in the morning and in the evening is because I want to learn devotion to my God and His Son. "Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:20). Jesus is looking at you and examining the fruit of your life. What will He see now; what will He say then?
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