Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Missing Habit

We live in a drop-out, opt-out, I'll do it if it's convenient and I feel like it culture. The world around us is incredibly consumer-minded and self-focused. So what is it then about Church attendance for the Christian? It isn't like school attendance. Is it a habit that is missing? For a lot of people, it is. 

In your elementary years, your teacher called roll at the beginning of every class. And missing so many classes or days had implications for your future. In the short term, it could affect your grade; in the long term, your academic advancement. Too many absences and maybe summer school was looming in the distance, thanks to the regulations of the local school board. 

Your pastor, on the other hand? He doesn't call roll. There is no roster of who is and isn't present on any given Sunday or event. So does that mean that church attendance is of less import than our formal schooling? Certainly not. Sure no one calls roll. But missing so many days or gatherings has implications for your future. In the short and long term, it could affect your spiritual advancement. 

Let's break down this term of "church attendance" for a moment. Some find it a bit staunch or stuffy, constricting or put-offish. 

Church. Is it a place you go, or something of which you are a key part? The Bible describes the collective followers of Jesus as the church. The church is people. So "church" happens wherever and whenever the church gets together to fellowship and worship Him. 

Attendance. It's being present at, taking part in, giving importance to, paying attention to... showing up. Life is busy for everyone. Setting aside scheduling conflicts with work, are we attending to our spiritual need to gather with other like-minded believers on a regular basis? Our lives are full and we fill them with good things, but are we lacking in this area? Is it our habit, a part of our lifestyle?

God's Word is like the local school board. Jesus is the Superintendent. He has set things in place for the Christian--His disciples--for our good. The book of Hebrews is all about how Jesus is better than anything else. It is full of warnings about drifting and neglecting our spiritual lives and equally full of appeals to spiritual diligence and pressing on in spite of any obstacle or hindrance, whether from without or within. 

Hebrews 10:25  says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Are you in the habit of gathering with your local church or are you in the habit of giving up meeting together? Habits are powerful and they take time to build and to change. 

If you are currently in the habit of meeting together with believers and encouraging them in their pursuit of God, don't give it up. 

And if you are habitually missing, pray for strength to break that habit and for the desire and commitment to cultivate the habit of regular church attendance. The body of Christ is missing you. You are a valuable member whose very presence helps the rest of the church to grow in love as you participate in the fellowship of the brethren.

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