This is an issue I have began to struggle with over the years and prayerfully have grown in so many areas from it.
I know people who used to attend church regularly, were active in ministry in their churches and something that happened within the church changed their perception of the church itself (not God) and they moved away from the church.
Now most Christians will say, you are not going to church for the people you are going to church for God. I will be the first to admit I do not know every verse in the bible but I cannot find a verse that says one must attend church. I do know of Hebrews 10:25 25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." and Matthew 18:19 - 20 "19 Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Which brings me to Christians and the church. The majority of Christians believe that you must go to church regularly and they also believe that if you don't go to church regularly you are doing something wrong per se and your relationship with God isn't right! I say the majority of Christians believe that because that is how I see a lot of them treat and talk about those who don't attend church regularly.
I wonder have these Christians taken the time to find out do these people pray on a regular basis, do they fast, do they read the Word, do they gather regularly with a friend or two to discuss the Word and the wonders of God or do those church folk only focus on the fact that these people don't go to church. Do they ask do these people give to others, do things in their communities, do church folks take the time to find out if these people have good hearts and good spirits, if they are filled with love, kindness, patience, self-control or do church folk only focus on the fact that these people don't go to church.
The bible does instruct us in Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Can we go out and make disciples by beating people up, putting them down, telling them all the things that they are doing wrong because they don't go to church and what they need to do right. Or do we take the example of Jesus....Jesus went around to different places and talked to people in common words that they understood, he made it plain. He simply told them what was to come and what was going to happen and why they should follow him and how they should treat others by using parables.
I will go so far as to compare a lot of modern day church folk to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were trying to find ways to discount Jesus, The Word Clothed in Human Flesh! Using law to tell him what he was "doing" wrong.
Conveniently the majority of church folk when they hear the Word they are always miraculously doing everything right and nothing wrong....
Using what Jesus said to the Pharisees I believe goes for modern day church folk:
Clean and Unclean 1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
3Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, 'Honor your father and mother'[a] and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'[b] 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6he is not to 'honor his father[c]' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8" 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'[d]"
John 8: 4-9
4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Matthew 23:1-4 1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Matthew 13 - 39 13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.[c]
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.
23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'[d]"
Us church folk/regular goers do not want to be like the Pharisees. We should want to be not only hearers but doers of the Word. Jesus used compassion, love, kindness, understanding, and patience as tools to draw people unto him. He walked the walked and talked the talk! Through his actions men/women were able to see that he was no ordinary man that there was something special about him and they flocked to hear him speak so that even when he tried to get away for alone time they followed him! He did not use force/might/ridicule/judgment....
Our greatest commandment is to love! We are instructed to do unto others and we would have them to do unto us. We are to take the bible in its entirety and not just the bits and pieces that fir our lives at the present moment and put them into practice. Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
It is my prayer that more church folk will rise above and separate themselves from the World and let their light draw men unto them. Let their light diminish the darkness and that this be done more so through their actions/behavior than their words. I pray that Christians become less judgemental and more open and welcoming. Not accepting a person sinful behavior but learning to hate the sin but love the person....This is something that I struggle with and I am just grateful that I have learned to become less judgemental of those that do not attend church regularly and less hyped up because I do.
All that I do that is good is because of the God in me, because someone loved me, because someone prayed for me, because my mother has taken me to church since I was a little girl and instilled the values/principles of God in me and now that I am an adult I have not parted from them!
Be a blessing and be blessed,