Wisdom4Today with Dr. Mike
As Christians, we all have experienced times when we would rather stay home or do something else instead of going to church. Likewise, we all have met people who are experts in coming up with reasons for why they cannot go to church. With this in mind, the following are the top seven reasons not to go to church.
#7: I don’t want to miss the big game
This is usually the reason given by die-hard sports fans. These are the types of fans that have their favorite team’s bumper sticker on their car; wear their team’s jersey; and may even have slippers with their favorite team’s logo on them. Interestingly, many die-hard sports fan buy all the team merchandise, tickets to attend games or treats for their hosted game day parties, and even paint their faces or dye their hair with the team colors.
Often many think church is too boring and that people who faithfully attend church every week are religious fanatics, forgetting how fanatic they were as they were screaming themselves hoarse while their favorite player made a sprint to the goal line or delivered a bone crushing tackle. However, God has an answer to the object of our cheering:
Psalm 107:31-32 (KJV) (31) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (32) Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
#6: I don’t have the energy or I am too tired
This is usually the reason given by people who do not get enough sleep for a number of reasons. Many times, the issues of life weigh upon us and keep us up at night. However, more often, we are tired because we try to cram too many things in our life and do not allocate enough time for rest.
We learn from Scripture that even Jesus took time away from His active ministry schedule to spend time alone with the Father (Matthew 14:23). Likewise, although our Sabbath rest is now in Christ (Hebrews 4:1-11), there is a lot to be said for having one day a week that we can rest, spend time with God and our friends enjoying one another. God tells us that when we do this we will be renewed and strengthened for the work ahead:
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Like the reason for number six, I am too tired, many people claim they do not have the time because of their busy schedule. Too often, our lives are full with work, appointments, special events with the kids, and not enough hours in the day. Like the person who tries to cram too many things in their life, we often let our schedule intrude into the time when we should be in church.
Many of us go to great lengths to manage our schedule; tracking appointments and activities. If we are honest with ourselves, the things that are most important to us usually consume the most time in our lives. If we cannot spend even an hour a week to go to church, then it is very telling about what we value. The Bible tells us about our priorities and what it means as a reflection of our relationship with God:
1 John 2:15-16 (KJV) (15) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
#4: I don’t like hearing about giving money all the time
While it is true there are some churches that are constantly harping about giving, the vast majority do not. In fact, some local churches have given up passing the collection plate and have opted for donation boxes being available for people to drop in their donations and even offer electronic options for giving. However, most of these same local churches report a drastic decrease in giving when giving up passing the collection plate. No matter what the level of giving, a local church still has expenses even if there is no paid staff despite God’s Word telling us they should be paid (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Most people do not know that no matter if a church rents or owns its building, the utility expenses, liability and property insurance, and even internet access costs more because more is consumed and the church is charged the business rate for such services.
The Bible mentions giving in a much broader context than just money. It starts with God giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16), giving of our time to God’s work (Hebrews 6:10), and giving of our talents and expertise (Romans 12:1-13). However, God does not want us to give just because we should do it. He wants us to give from our heart because we are motivated to do it out of our love for Him and our neighbor:
Mark 12:41-44 (KJV) (41) And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. (42) And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. (43) And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: (44) For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
This is a comment that is often heard from two sources. The first is from people who really are just looking for a cynical way to blame someone else because they personally simply do not care about going to church. The second is from people who sometime along the way had a bad experience with ungodly people, legalism, and hypocrisy in the past. Sadly, it is often those who had a bad experience, who later in life are struggling with major life issues because of their lack of a close relationship with God and with others who love God.
Most professing Christians have no idea how their behaviors affect others for good or bad. Sadly, as Christians, sometimes we are our own worst enemy because we think that we and others must be intimidated into living the Christian life. We do this instead of taking the time to inspire others to live a holy life because inspiring people takes a lot of work. With this mindset, people either comply because of the intimidation or they get fed up and leave. Just as God was longsuffering or patient with us (2 Peter 3:9-18), we too must be longsuffering and patient with others:
Galatians 6:1-10 (KJV) (1) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (4) But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (5) For every man shall bear his own burden. (6) Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. (7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (10) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
#2: I don’t need to go to church to worship God
As an organism, the church, which is the body of Christ, lives, moves, works, and plays together as children of God (Galatians 3:26) and brothers and sisters in Christ. We gather together not only to worship, but to edify or lift up one another (Romans 14) , to grow in Christ (Romans 8:28-29), and to do the work of the ministry:
Ephesians 4:10-16 (KJV) (10) He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Going to church is not about what we get out of it or to be entertained. It is about being part of the effort to share Christ with others and encouraging one another so that we can be strengthened for the work during the week when we are apart. This is the reason why we are told in Hebrews 10:23-25 that we should not be “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” in church.
#1: I don’t need an imaginary God or book to tell me what to do
This is probably the most telling excuse for why people do not go to church. Simply stated, they believe that they have all the answers to living their life and the afterlife. However, their words reveal the error in their thinking the way that each one of these seven excuses do. This reason is like the six others in that it starts with the words “I don’t”. Saying I don’t reveals thinking that says, “I am what’s important.”
We see the origin of this thinking in Isaiah 14:12-14. Here we see that the originator of this type of thinking was Satan in His famous five-fold “I will” statement.as follows:
Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV) (12) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (13) For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
In verse 13, the first thing we notice is that Satan said in his heart the five-fold I wills. God’s Word tells us that what’s in our heart is the source of what we say or do for both good and bad:
Luke 6:45 (KJV) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Likewise, we are told that we cannot trust our heart when it comes to making sound decisions: Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Simply stated, our heart will lead us astray (Jeremiah 8:9; James 1:13-15) if it is not filled with the proper source of wisdom, God’s Word (Psalms 119:11,105; 1 Corinthians 1:30).
When looking at the five-fold “I will” statement, we see that Satan exalts himself in five distinct levels starting with physical creation and concluding with God:
“I will ascend into heaven.” The highest level of physical creation. This statement reveals that the person saying this by His own judgment thinks he or she is entitled to some sort of reward for how they lived their life and it is up to them to define it and how to earn it. Although few might not believe in Heaven, nearly all think that they will be in for some sort of reward, be it Heaven, nirvana, reincarnation to a better life, rebirth as a star, being promoted to the position of an angel, or some other position that meets their own self-created, easily attained reward. God tells us what He thinks as follows:
John 14:6 (KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Romans 3:23-28 (KJV) (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” The second highest level of physical creation. This statement reveals that the person saying this thinks he or she is superior to God’s angels in knowledge and power (Revelation 1:20; 12:4) and above all of creation (Genesis 1:16; Job 22:12; Psalms 8:4-5). He or she does not need some silly superstition or book of myths to tell him or her how to live life. They are the master of their own destiny in their eyes and have the power to master anything they set their mind to. They create all sorts of explanations to minimize God’s power and exalt scientific progress in explaining the mysteries of the universe. Simply stated, they think that their destiny will be that of the position and power of angels.
Mark 12:24-25 (KJV) (24) And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? (25) For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
In this passage, Jesus is talking about believers who will be like angels, (not actually be angels) in many ways after the resurrection. Here we see we will be like angels in our relationships. Likewise, just as Jesus took upon Him human flesh to become like us, we find that we too are lower than angels (Psalms 8:5; Hebrews 2:7-9). However, after the resurrection, we are elevated to a position above angels and will even judge them (1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Corinthians 4:5) more specifically those angels that have fallen (2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 12:10).
“I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north”
The third highest level of creation. This statement reveals that the person saying this is superior to and looks down on everyone else. The person sees his or her self as smarter than everyone else and thinks that he or she is wiser than everyone else, especially people of faith, who are are not as smart as him or her. They see God’s people as mindless rubes or idiots who are not smart enough to think for his or her self. God addresses this type of thinking as follows:
1 Corinthians 1:25-29 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Psalm 48:1-2 (KJV) (1) Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. (2) Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds”
The fourth highest level of creation. This statement reveals that the person saying this thinks her or she is positionally and practically able to soar above the clouds of creation. Humans take great pride in being the highest climber, aviator, and even astronaut. Many a poet has written about the ability to soar above the clouds as a bird, free and unencumbered by gravity, even going to outer space and returning at will. While having an explorer’s desire is not bad in itself, history shows that when humans have ascended great heights, they were in awe of God’s creation. Unfortunately, exploration of space has taken on a new purpose, not to explore God’s creation, but to find proof of life elsewhere as part of an evolutionary or intergalactic visit to explain life on earth without the truth of Scripture. God addresses this type of thinking as follows:
Psalm 19:1 (KJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Psalm 97:6 (KJV) The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
Psalm 113:4-6 (KJV) (4) The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. (5) Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, (6) Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
Deuteronomy 4:32-39 (KJV) (32) For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? (33) Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? (34) Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? (35) Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. (36) Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. (37) And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; (38) To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. (39) Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
“I will be like the most High”
The ultimate statement of position and authority. This statement reveals that the person saying this thinks her or she is superior to God or in some cases, thinks he or she is God. In their eyes, although they won’t often admit it, they occupy the throne of God and portray themselves as being sovereign over everything. They look down on anything that suggests they are not all knowing, all powerful, or deserving of respect. These are those who take self-esteem to level of self-glorification and selfishness. Although they often do not recognize the existence of Satan, by their attitudes and deeds, they manifest whose child they are and it is not God (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 2:16-16; 1 John 2:22-23, 3:9-19, 4:1-5; 2 John 7). God tells us what He thinks as follows:
John 8:42-45 (KJV) (42) Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. (43) Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. (44) Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (45) And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (KJV) (3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
We see from the five-fold statement of “I will” that the person who does not believe in God or think they need God in their life is consumed with self. If church is about being part of the effort to share Christ with others, encouraging one another so that we can be strengthened for the work during the week when we are apart, then what interest does someone who cares more about his or her self have in going to church?
These are only seven reasons for not going to church. Many of us can come up with more, but in the end we must not forget to look to the example of others who despite great difficulties, poverty, lack of transportation, and even physical limitation and risk of personal safety, manage to be in church regularly. In many areas of the world, there is a church in every neighborhood. Likewise, in many areas, churches are practically nonexistent. No matter what the case, there is no excuse for not gathering together with God’s people.