by Pastor Yugo Emechebe [@Ugonna_Emechebe]
“Christianity is a thing of the heart; I can stay in my house and still worship God. Must I really go to Church in order to worship God? Can’t I stay away and still serve Him?”
I’ve heard a few people make such statements in the past and I’ve listened with rapt attention to their arguments. Without a doubt there are one or two things that can be regarded as plausible in the points they make. “Must a person go to Church in order to worship God?” No, you don’t have to go to Church in order to worship God; however, this statement, though it might not be incorrect, is definitely incomplete. I might not have to go to Church in order to worship God at any given time (today, tomorrow or even the day after), but if I put into consideration what it means to worship and serve God then I will see if there are any benefits to attending Church.
Attending Church services alone is not the key to salvation. Yet there are benefits that accrue to both you (the worshiper) and God when you attend Church. Besides, when someone becomes a Christian one of the things that will come impulsively to him is the desire to please God. We know that a characteristic of the person who loves God and would want to please Him is obedience-
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (JOHN 14:21, 23; NKJV).
The above statement is completely unambiguous, so it goes without saying that one of the most important things to a genuine child of God will be an aspiration to obey Him. Let us take a look into what He expects believers to do and how He expects us to obey as it concerns attending Church-
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (HEBREWS 10: 24-25; NKJV).
Clearly, He doesn’t want us to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together”. Where two or three are gathered together in His Name He is there (MATTHEW 18:20); this combination clearly defines the Church.
It is also important that we realize that for everything God requires of us there are benefits to Him, and practically twice the amount of benefits to us. Think for a few minutes about the 10 Commandments that He gave His people Israel (EXODUS 20:1-17); apart from Commandments 1-3 that had to do with worshiping God and ascribing all the Glory to Him all the other Commandments were for their direct benefit. For example, the Command to honor their parents was to provide the benefit of long life; the Command not to kill was meant to protect the lives of those they might have tried to take and also protect their lives from those that would have attempted to take them; the Command not to covet what belonged to their neighbors was also given to ensure that their neighbors didn’t covet what belonged to them.
Having said this, the question might now be asked, “What does God stand to gain from my attending Church?” Also, what do I stand to gain by going to Church as a believer?
Firstly, we know that God is looking for those that’ll worship Him in spirit and truth (JOHN 4: 23-24), but how does He want this worship? Look at what He wants-
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations (Gentiles) shall worship before You.” (PSALM 22:27; NKJV).
The interesting thing we must note about this particular scripture is that worship will be given to God by families, though the Bible also talks about individual worship it speaks a lot about corporate worship, thus indicating that we are required to do both. The “families” He mentions here are not necessarily biological, they are also spiritual. A Church congregation makes up a spiritual family. When we collectively worship Him from our hearts it gives Him great delight.
How about the benefits I stand to get from attending Church? For want of space I’ll list just two fundamental benefits for the believer-
(1) THE SUPPLY OF THE BODY: The Church is constantly referred to as the Body of Christ. What does a body do? One of its functions is to supply nutrients and oxygen to its components. It’s no different with the Body of Christ-
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (EPHESIANS 4: 15-16; NKJV).
What this means is that as a “joint” of the Body of Christ I must supply my quota; as a “part” of the Body of Christ I must do my own share as I also receive a supply from others. The Bible tells us that it’s iron that sharpens iron (PROVERBS 27:17).
(2) THE PROTECTION OF THE BODY: Every human body has systems that ensure its protection. If you cut yourself while peeling oranges, for example, the body ensures that the wound clots. This is to make sure you don’t lose blood. In the same way, being a part of the Church ensures you are protected from false doctrines, deceivers and all kinds of evil that can befall a believer who is not connected to a local assembly.