This blog submitted by Bob Williamson
I get some interesting e-mails and yesterday was no exception. One reader wrote in part: “Yesterday I could have attended church but decided to take care of some errands instead. I figured that I pray every morning and I keep Christ and GOD on my mind as much as I can every day. I know that there is a passage in the Bible that Jesus Christ said that GOD prefers that we pray on our own and not in front of others to see. I also understand that it is important that we pray as a community and that is why it is important to go to church on Sundays. So is it ok to miss going to church every once in a while?”
I used to think of the Bible as a book of rules that seemed to be against the things in life that were fun. Drinking, carousing, fornication outside of marriage, spending Sundays going hunting or fishing (or just sleeping off a hangover) were all condemned in the Bible and I had little use for such rules, because they seemingly were against all of the “fun” things in life.
I discovered that the fun things in life weren’t so fun. Ask any alcoholic how fun it is to be one. Ask any liar how it feels to get caught in a lie, the same goes for thieves and adulterers. Getting drunk might be a little fun at the time, but the consequences of car crashes, hangovers, health problems, and making an idiot out of yourself aren’t much fun. Adultery might give some temporary satisfaction but always ends badly and so on.
My children often resented the rules in our house, but now that they are older and have children of their own they seem to be implementing them in their own households more each day. They now understand just how much I loved them and that is why rules were in place. I believe the Bible is based upon the same concept.
Every word of the Bible was divinely inspired by our loving Father and thus is important. We are His children and He loves us so much He sent His only Son to die for us. For reasons that He chose not to explain He selected this tool, His Holy Bible, to communicate with us. I like to think of it as an owner’s manual written by the “Supreme Manufacturer” of all creation. If we carefully follow it, we will obtain excellent results in our lives. Similar to a car manufacturer recommending periodic oil changes because they know their product needs them, God tells us via the Bible what we need and how to get the most out of our lives in this world and indeed for the everlasting life that will follow this one.
There are rules in the Bible and some are straight forward such as: don’t murder; don’t steal, don’t commit adultery etc. and it’s easy to see how they might adversely affect us. Some, such as obey the Sabbath and keep it holy, are more difficult to understand. We know that if we lie, murder, steal, and so forth terrible results will be forthcoming. Breaking other commands is no different. We don’t have the luxury of following the ones with which we agree and not following the ones for which we disagree (or understand).
We should simply try our utmost to follow all of the Bible as closely as possible in order to get the maximum and best results with our lives. Give God some credit for knowing more than we know. If He ordains that we need to go to church on Sundays, then we should simply surrender our wills and go. I have found that obedience is the key to peace, joy, and love in our lives.
In order to comply with our spiritual owner’s manual we must know what the Bible states. As I understand the Bible the primary purpose of attending church is not simply for community prayer as this reader suggests. The Bible states “do not forsake the gathering together of each other” for a very important purpose in protecting us. Gathering together with other Christians is a vital part of the “full armor of God” that is necessary for us to employ in order to resist satan’s attack on humanity. We must engage in daily prayer, read the Bible, gather together with other believers to fortify ourselves and gather additional strength in numbers, have faith, live as righteously as possible, and follow Christ in order to survive and thrive in the spiritual war that we are engaged in.
Gathering together with other believers is a key component to life. God knows that we need a day devoted to worship where we can escape the daily pressures of the world and rest in His peace. He gives us six days but on the seventh we need to rest in His Spirit. Church also provides a good way to “hear the word of God” which according to the Bible is how our faith grows.
So that is the long answer to my friend’s question. Yes we should go to church as often as possible is the short answer. Remember when Jesus was a child and His parents could not find Him. They frantically looked for Him and all that time He was in the temple. He seemed puzzled that they would not know where He was. This is no accident and is in the Bible as an example for us all.
With all of that said, I caution you to find a church where the Bible is not distorted. No one should add to God’s word or take away the parts with which they disagree. Unfortunately many churches are doing just that in ordaining homosexual marriages and priests, foregoing the sanctity of life, disavowing Christ’s deity, the cross, and the resurrection, and other serious perversions of the Bible. It is being twisted to the point of being unrecognizable by some.
I’ve read the Bible word-for-word many, many times and know first-hand what it states. Its message is the most important thing in life as far as I’m concerned. It’s God’s only communiqué with the world and the children whom He loves. There are 3800 references in the Old Testament alone to the Bible being called the Word of God. It is the only thing that Jesus ever quoted. If you rarely bother to pick it up and rely on others, (including me), to tell you what to believe – What does that say about your faith?
The French atheist Voltaire was a famous writer who owned his own printing press in the 1700s. He did everything he could to disprove the Bible and once boasted that within 25 years he’d have the Bible housed in a morgue! Within 25 years Voltaire was in a morgue having died a miserable death. Ironically, the Geneva Bible Society bought Voltaire’s press and property to print and distribute the Word of God around the world.
Different times and different leaders view the Bible differently. President Obama certainly doesn’t exhibit any love for the Bible and what it states. I wish he would spend some time studying our first President’s memoirs. George Washington stated: “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.”
The Bible is not going away. It is there for anyone and everyone who chooses to pick it up and read it. I urge you to do just that. Read the Bible completely through for yourself this year. Begin with Romans; then read the New Testament in its entirety; then the Old Testament. Skim over the difficult passages and take your time on the ones that are easier to understand. When God speaks to you in earnest, slow down, meditate on it, and listen to the Spirit. This is the best advice I could ever give anyone.
2 Tim. 2:15
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.