"But I Don't Want to Go to Church": Why God Won't Let You Off the Hook
No one can effect you like church folk.
When things go right, there's no place you'd rather be. When things go wrong, you're looking for the closest exit. That's our culture today. We treat church like a hard job or a bad marriage. Society's access to more options has diluted our willingness to see a thing through to the end.
You say you don't have to put up with it but, child of God, you do, and God is not letting you off the hook. But hang with me... be encouraged. It will be worth it.
“Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. ~2 Chronicles 29:4-7
The story of young King Hezekiah and the return of God's people to the temple is easily my favorite story about church folk. Hezekiah had witnessed his father shut the doors of the church and seek favor outside its' walls. He saw what was sacred to God be sacrificed to those with an agenda, but the effort was in vain. Favor would not be found in these streets. Glory would not reveal itself through unfaithfulness. And now, his father is dead and the throne is his. In my sanctified imagination I can hear him say,
"Enough is enough. We're going home."
Home. Do you miss having a church home?
God sits in the heavens, but His soul rests in the local church.
There comes a point where you and I have to stop looking at the behaviors of man and focus on the soul of God.
I can hear someone whispering "No, I don't" right...here.
Yes, you do. God does it for you.
The local church is not heaven, but it is the place where the train of His robe fills the temple. It is our strong tower, our safe haven. It is where the Father can rest His feet and you can free your mind. He will not honor us when we abandon it.
During my work in Christian Education full-time, I was called upon to lead a project meant to reignite the spirit of discipleship and collaborative effort in the church at large. I could envision the people coming together like in the days of Hezekiah. My heart was poured out. I gave it everything I had, but after several months of prompting, prodding, pulling, and praying, the project was labeled "an epic fail". It was over for the church, but the pain lingered on for me. Not because only one person cared to see if I was okay. Not because my name was on everyone's lips. But because we, like Hezekiah's father, were not faithful to what could be.
It was a game changer for me in ministry. God let me see the truth of what I was called to through failure. I was (and still am) called to take care of home, and He wasn't going to let me off the hook. So, I prayed and I recovered. I ministered and I delivered. I stayed true to the vision He had revealed to me and my role in it.
I could remain faithful to what I knew could be not because it was my church, but because it was my home.
No, we are not perfect, but we are here. Together. Making the sacrifice. Helping each other find our way to Christ. We do not celebrate the building. We worship its' Creator.
The animals consecrated as sacrifices amounted to six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep and goats. The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their relatives the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been. ~2 Chronicles 29:33-34
Do you know why people talk about being "fed" when it comes to church? It's because the word of God is comfort food. It's Sunday dinner served simply with a little seasoning and a lot of love. We crowd around the Father's table. We pass the peas and the pot roast so everyone can get some. The little ones sit at the "kid's table" playing and picking up pearls of wisdom on how to live and still love your neighbor in an unforgiving world.
Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. ~2 Chronicles 30:19-20
Are we flawed? Yes.
Is there favoritism? Sometimes.
Full of drama? Absolutely. What family isn't?
But imagine what could be if you were there.
So the service of the temple of the Lord was reestablished. Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly. ~2 Chronicles 29:35b-36
Your heart has no home in these streets. This week, go to church. Humbly ask God to go before you and go with you. Pray fervently, not casually. Speak life, not gossip. Consecrate yourself to receive God's vision of what could be. You can do it. Heaven won't let your effort be in vain.
As long as You're in control, I know things will work out for me.
Ricky Dillard's "Things Will Work Out for Me"
God won't let you off the hook because your soul needs this, and He deserves it.
WE. ARE. THE. BODY. OF. CHRIST.
HEY! Are you ready to join #TeamGODnMe!
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