Rebecca J. Layton
I recently sent the following letter to my sister, who, although professing to be a believer, has decided that there is no need for her to go to church.
When I invited you to church for Easter, you replied, "But then I would have to go to church. Well, here are some reasons why to go to church.
You don't have to go to church; rather, you want to go to church, because you love the Lord and because the Holy Spirit whispers to you that it is the right thing to do. (See John 14:15-17.)
You go to church to learn about God and his wonderful works, to learn about Jesus. The more you learn about God, the more there is to learn, since God is infinite. And if you go to a Bible-believing church, you learn what the real truth is. Go to a church that does not water down the Bible with psychological feel-goodism or that compromises the Word of God to be politically correct. (See Hebrews 10:24-25, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 1:1-3.)
Go to church to worship God, because you want to praise him for what he has done for youdying on the cross, taking your deserved punishment for sin. When you stand before God on the Day of Judgment, Jesus will be standing right beside you, telling God, "I paid for this person's sin, I paid in full, for all time, for every sin this person committed. Therefore, he/she is my adopted son/daughter. Accept them into glory for the work I have done. What a wonderful gift of life God has given us! And if we truly accept his gift, we should want to go to church to thank him and praise his holy name. (See Psalm 150, Exodus 20:8.)
Go to church to remember the work of Jesus. There we have a weekly opportunity to repent of our sins and to ask Jesus for forgiveness and strength to try again the coming week to follow his commands better. We know that our works can never save us by themselves, but we do good works as an outward expression of our love for Jesus and our thankfulness for his precious gift of salvation. At church we remember Jesus by partaking of the Lord's Supper. "Do this in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Go to church to fellowship with other people who love the Lord. And what a sweet fellowship it is to be part of the family of God. My best friendships have been with people I've met at church, and they are from all age groups and all walks of life. They all become family. Each friendship is very special and unique. I think of the older lady at church who cherishes the hug given her each week, or another lady telling you that you are one of her kids (because she has adopted you in her heart). Friendship is having someone say they will pray for you and knowing that they really will, or having friends that last through joys and sorrows and time and distance. (See John 13:35; 1 John 4:10-11; Hebrews 10:24-25.)
Go to church to share the talents God gave you. God gave each of us special talents, and if we love him, we share those talents, even if it means taking on some responsibilities. We do not hide our light under a bushel basket. Each person is a part of "the body of Christ, and each of our talents work to make the whole body stronger. Some people have the talent of hospitality, others of prayer, others of music, or teaching, or comforting. We all can do some of each, but each of us has areas where we are more gifted than others. One of my gifts is in the area of music (even though compared to many people I am not really very talented overall), and I play and sing the best I can for the Lord. Each talent brings with it a responsibility to use it for the Lord's work, and in return you receive the Lord's joy. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 12-26; Romans 12:3-13.)
I've tried to include verses from the Bible to back up what I say, so that you will know I'm not saying these things just from whims of fancy. I pray that when you read this letter, you will know that I am telling you these things because of my deep love for you, because I feel you searching for the Lord's truth. When you are apart from the body of Christ (the church), you can easily be tossed to and fro by false doctrine, for the devil works diligently to lead believers astray. The church helps you learn about God and Jesus. Your faith becomes stronger, because you know more, and because you know God's truth. During hard times, you also have the fellowship of believers to help carry your burdens as you walk God's path through this troublesome life. You can walk this path with boldness, confidence, and joy, knowing Jesus walked the path before you. He is leading you as your Good Shepherd, protecting you, his sheep. Lean on him. Follow him. Worship him. (See Romans 12:1.)
Mrs. Layton is a member of Grace Community OPC in Bend, Oregon. Reprinted from New Horizons, February 2000.