By Mark Larson
One lady, convicted about her failure to attend church services, tried to soothe her conscience by writing these words:
I’m sorry You put Sunday where You did, Lord. You see, we could attend church services more regularly if it came at some other time. After six days of work, we’re all tired out. Not only that, it comes right after Saturday night. That’s one time we feel we should enjoy ourselves, so we go to a party or a place of amusement. Often it’s after midnight when we head for home, so it’s almost impossible to get up in the morning. I mean no disrespect, Lord, but it’s the day when we have the biggest dinner and I must be here to prepare the meal. My husband John is cooped up in his office all week, and Sunday morning is the only chance he gets to tinker with the car and mow the lawn. We know we should go more often, but our seat is empty because You’ve chosen the wrong day.
Unfortunately, this sentiment expresses the feelings of far too many Christians today. Too often for too many Christians, the attendance of worship services is done, not out of a true commitment or genuine sacrifice for God, but out of convenience. If the times for assemblies do not fit their schedules or personal agendas, then they will not attend. Is God pleased with such attitudes? Most certainly not! We do not have to look very far into the Scriptures to see why.
Let us remember the main reason why we come together in the first place, and that is to worship the Lord. Both the Old and the New Testaments express the importance of worship. “Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods . . . Worship the Lord in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth” (Ps. 96:2-4, 9, NAS). Jesus taught that the Father is seeking people who will worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). With such importance placed upon worship, one might wonder to what degree worship will be emphasized in Heaven. The Revelation letter answers that question: “The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created’” (Rev 4:10-11, NAS; read also the entire chapter). For those who worship God only out of convenience, do you suppose God would want such people there with him in Heaven? Our worship of God in the here and now is indeed preparing us for the eternal life to come. To neglect our coming together to worship God does not demonstrate good things for eternity.
Second, we must remember how much God’s people need to meet together as often as they possibly can. Christians must make time for public worship and make personal sacrifices to be at each and every assembly period. Each member of the Lord’s church needs the spiritual nourishment of the apostles’ doctrine, fellow- ship, the Lord’s supper, and prayer (Acts 2:42) upon the first day of each week (Acts 20:7). Each member needs to give as he prospers (1 Cor. 16:2) in order to be a part of the contribution for the work of the church. Each member needs the encouragement from each other to continue steadfastly in all faithfulness. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24). Failure to attend the worship assemblies because it isn’t convenient not only is wrong, but it is also very damaging to our spiritual lives and our relationship with God and our brethren.
Third, we must remember that other Christians need us for spiritual strength, comfort, and encouragement.
Worship assembly is not only about worshiping God. Neither is it only about what we can get out of it for ourselves individually. Worship assembly is also about what we can give to each other spiritually. When we come together we are to purpose ourselves to encourage and edify each other (1 Thess. 5:11). We teach and admonish each through our singing (Col. 3:16). We encourage each other through fellowship in the things that we share or have in common in Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:1-2; 1 John 1:3). It isn’t just about you. It’s about a whole host of disciples that need and welcome your presence and encouragement. When Christians have the attitude that they will attend the assemblies whenever it personally suits them or whenever they happen to feel like it, they are being selfish. They are looking out for their own interests but not for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). Let us remember that we need each other! If we aren’t mindful of each other throughout the week (and we should be!), let us at the very least meet together at the times designated for public assembly. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15:2).
In conclusion, let us not be like some of the Hebrew Christians who had deserted their assemblies. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). The Greek word for “forsaking” is a very profound and forceful one and it denotes to abandon or desert in time of danger. It is the word used by our agonizing Savior on the cross, when he cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). How far are you from abandonment? You may not have forsaken the assemblies as of yet, but remember that attitudes such as “personal convenience” will lead you down that road if you aren’t careful. We must all take heed lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12). May we never forget the importance of attending the worship assemblies.