She wrote, "I always tell them that coming to church is a fantastic opportunity to meet with God, connect with your church family and thank God for all your blessings; but I also tell them that God does not require us to come to church at all. God loves us as we are, in our crazy busy lives and with all our responsibilities and obligations and activities. He loves it when we find time to spend with Him but that doesn't need a church. I know God loves that we come together as the church to worship God and support each other, but the church is a gift from God to us, not something we have to feel obligated towards.
Well, you know I had to respond! This is what I wrote:
I understand your belief that God is smiling on you--and He is. But try using this same excuse with an employer: "Well, I didn't come in to work today because I just HAD to get these other things done." Or "You know, I realize you expected me to be on time for work today but it was such a pretty day I thought I would take the family to the lake."
It comes down to priorities. There are indeed people who attend church services each and every Sunday, not because they fear God will strike them with lightning, and not because they don't have other things to do. They attend because they have made it a priority--sort of an appointment with God that they will always keep, similar to the way you would keep an appointment with your doctor. It's on the calendar, the time is set, and other things have to wait--even if it's a pretty day or there's company coming over.
This is not intended to reflect on you or your beliefs. The people I know who attend church regularly do so because they love the fellowship, teaching and study, the prayer and music, the growth opportunities, the strength and encouragement, and because they dearly love God and His people. They eagerly look forward to being at God's House on the Lord's Day for worship, and sincerely grieve when they cannot be there.
I heard of an old man who was almost completely deaf, but who showed up for worship every Sunday. He could not hear a single word of what was said. Someone asked him why he even bothered, since he couldn't hear anything. His reply was "I want everyone to know which side I'm on."
So it comes down to this: I attend church services regularly because I need to. Yes, it may be a crutch, but we're all limping. And I want there to be no mistake whatsoever which side I'm on. I want those who watch my life and witness to know that I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that I am a soldier reporting for duty.
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com