By Luther Blackmon
One member of the church to another: “Sorry you quit the church, we miss you.” “Oh, I haven’t quit the church, I just haven’t been coming,” replied the other. “Well,” said the first person, “if you were to quit, how would you go about it?”
It is a rare specimen who will admit, even to himself, that he no longer has any appetite for spiritual things; that the flame that once burned in his heart is now only a faint and fading flicker; that a Lord’s day meeting to worship God is a boresome ordeal; that Bible study holds nothing of interest to him. I doubt that there is a backslider anywhere who is willing to make an honest appraisal of his spiritual condition. In order to avoid seeing himself as he is, he makes excuses. That’s what excuses are for; that’s where they were conceived and born. But next Sunday morning when you are polishing up some old time-worn excuse to relieve your uneasy conscience until the hour for meeting has passed, and you can sink back into your apathy with that comforting little sedative that you have used so long: “We will get started back soon,” I ask you to consider this: Which is worse, just to come out boldly and declare that you are through with the church for good, or to reach the same destination one week at a time?
Some of the excuses we offer the Lord for refusing to attend worship we would not have the nerve to offer an intelligent friend. One says, “I work shift-work.” I’ve heard that one many times. But some of the most faithful members I know where I have preached work shifts that were “inconvenient” for others to attend. I know quite a bit about shift-work first-hand. I ran a shovel three years while preaching full-time for a congregation. Two of those years I worked three different shifts each week: one day, two evenings, and two graveyards. It is true that we cannot always attend every service, but “I work shift-work” is no reason for quitting the church. It’s just an old and tired and overworked excuse.
W e can try the validity of our excuses by offering them to our employers. Try telling him that you want a few days off, with pay, so you can be at home with your baby who has a cold. Try telling him that some real good friends dropped in just as you were ready to leave for work and you thought it would be rude of you not to stay home and entertain them. Or you might try telling him that one of the fellows you worked with said something unfriendly to you and hurt your feelings and that you are not coming back to work until he apologizes and shows a more friendly attitude–and of course you will expect to be kept on the payroll during that time. If that one doesn’t work, tell him that some of the people where you work aren’t all they claim to be (hypocritical); they break company rules all the time and some of them do things that are immoral, and that if the company doesn’t do something about it you are going to QUIT! Just try it! Of course we won’t try it! We know that if our employer did that kind of business, he would not be in business. We offer such gems as these only to the Lord. We might remember that He knows better too.
Truth Magazine XXI: 29, p. 458
July 28, 1977