This past weekend, my mother-in-law was in town for a visit and stayed the night at our house on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I woke up and thought to myself about whether I would get up and go to church, or stay at home and visit with her. I knew there would not be time for all of the family to get ready and go to church together, so if I went it would be just me. Finally, I decided that I would go to church, but that I would not stay as long afterwards fellowshipping with my friends and would hurry home instead.
I have been contemplating why I made this decision. I don’t see my mother-in-law very often, and I can go to church every week. So why did I decide to go? It is not because I feel like I am obligated to go or that it is necessary for my salvation. It is because I wanted to go to church. The author of Hebrews (generally believed to be the apostle Paul) wrote:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25.
There are three reasons I went to church on Sunday, and why I go every week that I am able. The first reason was discussed by our pastor in his sermon. I go for my own edification, that is, my intellectual, moral, and spiritual improvement, the “building up of my soul.” When I attend a church service, I learn more about God and His plan for my life. Meeting with other Christians “spurs me on toward love and good deeds.”
The second reason is the fellowship. I enjoy spending time with the other members of my congregation – people I consider part of my family as well as some of my best friends. We talk, laugh, and cry together after the service, sharing what God has done in our lives throughout the week. Great things can happen when believers gather together. For the early church, it was the filling of the Holy Spirit. As Luke records, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1. They weren’t all going their own way, they were together.
The third reason is a desire to worship my God in the sacrament of communion, in corporate prayer and recitation of our beliefs, and in song. This week we sang a song that exemplifies how I feel about this part of worship and who God is. It is called “You Are My King” and it goes like this:
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be
That You my King would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do I honor You
My Savior died for me. He chose the crown of thorns, the whip, and the nails for my salvation. It is such an awesome gift and I want to give back whatever I can through worship and praise in the company of my fellow believers.
I did get a chance to visit quite a bit with my mother-in-law, even though I was gone to church for an hour and a half. The wonderful thing is that she is a believer, too, so even though this visit was short I know I will have an eternity to visit with her any time I want when we both get to Heaven.