When people think of a church setting, most have the idea in mind of going and singing some hymns and having their offerings taken up, maybe some altar call and prayer and a feel-good message or maybe even a hell and brimstone message. Or maybe one of those churches with all the disco lights with an awesome concert topped off with a feel-good message.
Lately, I have been thinking about how many people I meet who don’t feel worthy enough to attend church at all. They feel like their sin has put a big red X on their forehead and, if they attend church, everyone will know they are not pure or a good person.
It breaks my heart to know there are so many who will not step foot into a church threshold for fear of judgment. They want their children to attend because, in their eyes, their children are innocent and deserve to be there.
I want so much for those who feel that way to understand that a church is a spiritual hospital. This is exactly where they belong. A church isn’t meant to only be a place for the healthy Christian. A church is part of the Body. It’s where one goes to have spiritual surgery. A spiritual checkup. An IV of spiritual hydration.
I have been to churches where I felt I did not belong. I was judged and not treated with the love and support that we as Christians are called to give. Fortunately, for me, I was raised as a Christian my whole life, and I knew better than to allow the one or two experiences to shape my whole view of who Jesus Christ is and what the Bible actually says and means.
However, for a new believer or a person who isn’t quite sure what they believe at all, this is a very fragile area. They have a preconceived notion of what the Church Body is and when they step out of their comfort zone and decide to give it a shot and are let down, they may decide to never step foot in a church again.
We have to step up as believers and followers of Jesus and embrace everyone that enters that threshold. We have a responsibility to love people to Christ. We have a responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the way through us. There may be a need for a course of correction at some point but only Holy-Spirit-led and without condemnation.
To those that may be reading this who have had a bad experience or maybe haven’t tried church because they have heard stories from other people that turned them off, I want you to know that they are not all like that, and by coming to a good Bible-believing, teaching church, you are being introduced to God the Father, the spiritual doctor.
You have an open invitation to live eternally. Because Jesus shed his blood on that cross, you have already been forgiven. All you have to do is accept that gift and allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. It’s a chance to receive a changed life. A loving supportive family that you are being adopted into.
So you smoke and you drink too much? Come anyway! Allow God to operate on you and change that. You cuss and you have sexual relations outside of marriage? Come anyway! Let God move in your life. Let Him change you.
We cannot do this life on our own. Our best efforts at changing our lives fall so short of what God can do when you accept that His son Jesus died on that cross and, by doing so, forgave every one of your sins that you have committed or will commit in the future. You do not have to be well to enter this hospital. Come as you are and let Him fix you up.
“God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants us.” -C.S. Lewis
Matthew 11:28, NIV – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
John 6:37, NET – “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.”
Isaiah 1:18, NLT – “’Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’”
Revelation 22:17, NLT – “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come…’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
Going to church and checking that box every week doesn’t make you a better Christian in and of itself. You aren’t required to attend church in order to be a believer. So why does it seem so important for us to go?
Sunday morning, you walk into a church after a long and harsh week definitely not looking forward to the next one. Maybe you have a million things to do that you were not able to get done on Saturday, but you feel guilty skipping, so you go anyway. You’re not really into worship and stand there with your hands in your pockets going through the motions looking forward to the moment you get to sit down and daydream your way through the message.
Once it’s over, you feel like you’re good because you made an appearance and did your Christian duty for the week. Does this sound at all familiar? I can say this because I have been here. Maybe you think, “Why even go? I know that is all I will be doing, so there really doesn’t seem to be any point.”
Say, for instance, you, instead, are going through the motions, but you get to church and are greeted by a fellow churchgoer who tells you that you have been on their mind this week for some reason and they felt led to pray for you and want you to know they are there if you need anything.
Then worship starts, and something happens. You feel emotional. Maybe the words to a song penetrate your soul and really touch on what you’ve been experiencing this past week. Then the message being taught talks about the work you do and mentions
Colossians 3:23, NIV – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Suddenly, you perk up because it seems as though it was selected just for you for that very week. And then there is an altar call to come up for prayer for anyone who has something they are going through or anyone who isn’t sure how to get out of the rut they are in or those that have been working their fingers to the bone just to make it by.
Maybe then you get invited to lunch afterward and that is the chance you have to talk it out with that person and let go of the emotion that has been building up all week long and they are able to pray with you and cover your following week in the Lord’s protection.
This is why we attend church. We are there to grow. You may start out going through the motions, but eventually, the Lord gets ahold of your heart and things start to change. You find yourself growing a stronger connection with the Holy Spirit and discerning things you hadn’t before, and you notice you’re starting to feel more joy on the inside.
Maybe your situation with work doesn’t change but knowing that there are sisters and brothers in Christ who are praying for you and are there to support you is strengthening your faith and hope in God. On a weekly basis, you’re constantly being taught and reminded of God’s truths. You are excited to find out what God has to say to you through next week’s message.
Eventually, you find yourself stronger than you have ever been before and now you want to be the support someone else that walks over that threshold needs. Suddenly, you are more inspired to read God’s Word and to praise and worship Him. This is what the Bible is talking about when it mentions the fruits of the spirit.
Galations 5:22-23, NIV – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
When we allow God to perform spiritual surgery on us and we keep our regular checkups, we suddenly find our spiritual health improving. We were never meant to be stagnant in our walk. Attending a spirit-filled church that teaches right from the Bible and doesn’t compromise on sin but doesn’t shy away from assisting those in putting it behind them will help you grow immeasurably.
That little tree that was planted doesn’t have to say little. It can grow into a luscious fruit-bearing tree. It is spiritual nourishment. A plant doesn’t grow unless it has sunlight and water. It is the same with us as Christians. We have to constantly tend to the garden if we want to produce anything.
You are worthy to attend church. Should you expect to come and leave the same way you came in? If that’s the case, then you may want to find another church to attend or maybe you just need the Lord to work in your heart. If you are not growing, pray and ask the Lord to open your heart to His truths and lead you to where He needs you to grow.
Nobody should feel like they cannot show up to church because they don’t have nice enough clothes to wear or they are stuck in a lifestyle of sin but don’t know how to get out. Come anyway. Come and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in a way you will know it’s Him.
I love you, brothers and sisters, and I want you to know that if this has touched you and/or if you need prayer, please reach out to me. God loves you too much to leave you to your own demise. I am praying for you and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to the right place.
Featured Image by Noah Buscher