When Going To Church Becomes A Sinful Act
Ten reasons not to go to church
By Kevin Probst
There are good reasons and bad reasons for following Christ. Jesus indicated a very high price must be paid for those who would choose to be his followers. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” That statement was enough to turn away those who were half-hearted in their commitment.
The mother of a friend of ours recently died. Our friend felt the grief and sadness that comes with the death of a dear loved one. When we asked her about getting time off work to attend the funeral she was adamant that her boss “better not deprive me of time to go to my mother’s funeral.” We all agreed that her request for time off should be honored.
The story recorded by Luke in his ninth chapter may seem to portray Christ as a bit heartless unless a deeper study is applied to his words. Christ invited a man to follow him and the man offered up what seems to be a legitimate excuse. “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Let the (spiritually) dead bury their own (physically) dead.” Actually, a burial may not have been imminent. The man’s father may have been terminally ill and his death may have been expected soon.
Was Jesus being unreasonable? Not if you look deeper into the meaning of his words. Jesus was saying to this man, “If you are going to use the illness or death of your father as an excuse to avoid making me Lord then it is unacceptable. There is no legitimate excuse for delaying or refusing the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus refused to accept the burial of a loved one as an excuse for partial commitment. If Christ was so firm with this man about being totally committed I wonder how Christ reacts to those who offer excuses for deserting the assembling of ourselves together. Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some…”
Refusing to worship together can be an act of selfishness. These are just some of the excuses that must be very disturbing to Christ:
1. I’m just too busy or too tired.
2. I’m entertaining guests this weekend.
3. I slept in.
4. I just couldn’t get the kids ready on time.
5. I can worship just as well by watching Joel Olsteen on T.V.
There are many more weak excuses we search for when we would rather choose to satisfy our own desires rather than commit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ.
On the other hand, attending church may also be an act of selfishness.
Many attend church for all the wrong reasons:
1. Some attend in hopes they might get on T.V.
2. Some attend to network with influential people in the community.
3. Some attend simply because the church runs a Christian school and it provides opportunities for them to be involved in that separate institution.
4. Some attend because the building is new and beautiful.
5. Some attend because that is where they married or where their parents attend.
6. Some attend because the church is tolerant of pre-marital sex or homosexuality.
7. Some attend because of geographical convenience.
8. Some attend because of the entertainment value of the services.
9. Some attend because the pastor is popular.
10. Some attend because anyone who is anyone attends this particular church.
Going to church can be wrong when we attend for selfish reasons. The right reasons for going to church include a desire to worship God, interact and receive encouragement from God’s children and participate or offer our talents to enhance the worship experience.
I’ve seen so many families hopping about from church to church because they are so dissatisfied. They want an athletic program for junior. They want arts and crafts for missy. Mom wants a yoga class and dad wants to play on the softball team. When we attend church to satisfy our own selfish wants instead of worshipping the true and living God then we are going for the wrong reason. In some cases going to church may be a selfish, sinful act.
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.