You know the feeling. It's Sunday Morning. There are so many things you could do. Roll over and go back to sleep for a start. And the thought goes through your mind – 'You don't have to go to church to be a Christian… In fact, there are lots of people who want to be at St George's on a Sunday but can't because of ill-health or because they work difficult shifts in vital jobs… perhaps it wouldn't be a big deal if I missed it just this once…' So here are 4 questions (I'm sure you can think of more) that I've put together to help get myself to church on Sundays.
1. Am I stronger than Jesus?
Jesus was God Himself. If there is anyone in human history who might not have needed to meet regularly with God's people, it was Him. But in Luke 4.16 we're told that Jesus went to the synagogue, 'as was His custom.' In other words, Jesus thought He needed to meet weekly with God's people – and if He did, I definitely do.
2. Am I deliberately trying to grow cold towards Jesus?
The book of Hebrews contains many warnings not to harden our hearts, and it says that one of the best ways to stop following Jesus is to 'give up meeting together' (Hebrews 10.25). The church is a bit like a coal fire, and Christians are a bit like coals – if we stay in the fire with the other hot coals, we stay hot. If we fall onto the hearth away from the other coals, we grow cold very quickly.
3. Do I only care about myself?
1 Corinthians 12 tells me that I mustn't think that whether I come to church or not is a personal decision that only affects me. It says the church is like a body and we've all got different roles to play in serving each other. Some people have obvious jobs that look impressive (perhaps they're like a hand or a mouth). Other people do vital jobs that never get noticed (they're like the liver which no one ever sees, but you die without it). Even if I think my role in the church is very small, (perhaps about as important as a toenail in the body), I have got a part to play. If you've lost a toenail, you'll now how painful it is when it's not there.
4. Am I unwilling to forgive?
This last question really worries me because I can see how easily it stops people coming to church. I've spoken to a frightening number of people recently who've said they haven't been at St George's because someone else has said or done something that they found hurtful or annoying. It sounds reasonable, (after all, they're the injured party) but it's not OK to respond sinfully just because someone else has sinned against me. According to Jesus, I can't even pray for my sins to be forgiven if I'm refusing to forgive and love the person who has hurt me (Matthew 6.15).
See you at 10 for 10.30…?