Many times, I have had folks say to me: “Pastor, I do not need to go to church. I can worship God on my own.” While the latter may be true, I often respond by asking: “Are you being nourished or how often are you distracted? The following are two of my favorite illustrations about the importance of attending church:
(1) A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.
“I’ve gone for 30 years now,” he wrote, “and in that time, I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and the preachers and priest are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.”
This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
“I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today! Thank God for all our physical and our spiritual nourishment!
(2) A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.
After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.
After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.
As the one ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.”
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back on the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
(to be continued)
Serving God Together,