This is Holy Week. If you are a believer, then you are reflecting on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. It’s also a time of year when believers are encouraged to invite others to church. Why now, you ask? If someone has any knowledge about the Bible or has had any exposure to Christianity, or if they were brought up in church but have drifted away, then they most likely understand the importance of Resurrection Sunday. It’s a chance for them to reconnect with Jesus. When prompted by a friend, they often go that Easter Sunday and hopefully every Sunday after because they’re reunited with their first love – Jesus. It truly is a heartfelt celebration when someone returns. The church body needs all of its parts, and you are an essential part to God’s plan.
In addition to the ones who already know the gospel, there are those people who haven’t been introduced to God’s unconditional love — and have never heard about how they can have a relationship with Jesus. Like, what does that even mean? (If you want to know, please ask.) Those are the ones who believers hope to reach, also, so that they can experience the richness of being a Christ follower and experiencing the truth that they can spend eternity with Him.
I believe I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, you can be a Christian and worship at home. BUT, tell me this – are you staying home because that way you don’t have to deal with difficult people? Maybe you didn’t like the type of music they used during worship or you’re not getting anything out of the sermons. There’s a variety of reasons and excuses that keep us from walking in that building. Last one, you felt like the preacher was talking to you in his sermon and you thought he was being judgmental, so you vowed to never return.
I recently overheard a conversation between three people. One mentioned she didn’t go to church because “they have the most judgmental people, ever.” After listening to her make several “nonjudgmental” judgmental comments about other people, over and over again, this thought came to my mind: ‘If church is filled with the most judgmental people, ever, then I do believe you would fit right in.’ Naturally, I didn’t say that out loud, but ooooooooh do I ever wish I had the guts to do so. It was the truth. A truth she didn’t see.
Friends, If you don’t go to church or maybe you’ve had a bad experience, please listen. I’m not trying to make excuses here. If someone has surrendered their life to Jesus, then they should be making every effort to become like Christ. Jesus didn’t hide the truth. However, he said it in love. People (*I*) need to work on that. A lot.
If you didn’t know it before, there ARE rules to living a Christian life and there ARE consequences when we don’t. God didn’t say, “If you love me and have asked for forgiveness, you now have the license to do whatever you desire. Live it up! All I care about is your happiness!” Umm, no. He cares about our holiness. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23. When we follow Him, we experience joy like no other.
Unfortunately, church isn’t a perfect place where everyone lives in harmony. THAT place is called heaven. However, It’s a place for believers to come together and be transformed through a lot of study and learning from others. Let’s be honest, we all have something to work on. It’s a place where we are encouraged to love (even those difficult people) and serve others – (and not just the lovable ones or people who “deserve” it), worship our Savior, pray, and give thanks. It’s where I’ve learned the importance of and the power of forgiveness — through those difficult people that God placed in my life. That’s how we grow in our faith — facing the challenges and learning from them, not hiding from them.
In church and in Bible studies, I have learned scriptures that have helped me throughout my life. There are too many to list here, but here’s a few:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Proverbs 4:23
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Col. 3:13
I pray what I’ve shared has encouraged you in some way. If you have something to add, please comment! We’re in this journey together.