Summary: If Christians are called to go to war against the gates of Hell, what role does "going to church" play in the conflict?
About 20 years ago, a man received a call from his mother while deployed in Iraq. It was the weekend, and she asked if he had to work on Sundays. He replied “Mom, we have to work every day… it’s a war.” (Jeanice Shelley, Reader’s Digest 2/08 p. 50)
Last Sunday we talked about the fact that we are at war with Satan. When Peter declared “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” Jesus replied “On this rock (Peter’s confession) I will build my church, and the GATES of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Gate are attached to things like fortresses and castles, and they’re designed to keep people like you and me… out. But Jesus was saying that wasn’t going to happen. The Gates of Hell WILL NOT prevail against us. We will not be kept out of Satan’s fortress. We will enter; we will conquer; and we will overcome. We are literally fighting a war we can’t lose … as long as take it seriously.
Jesus BUILT His church (not of brick and mortar) but with people like you and I. And He built His church with us – so that you and I will take the fight to Satan. We’re not here to defend buildings. We are here to conquer Hell. We are an army on the march.
ILLUS: I’m something of a history buff and I’ve read a lot about WWII. One of the things that has caught my attention was that when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor – America was not ready to go to war. They didn’t have enough war factories; They didn’t have enough ships or airplanes; and they didn’t have the standing army to fight Japan… let alone Germany and Italy.
But within about 2 years’ time, that began to change.
ILLUS: According to one source: During WWII, each front-line soldier needed 18 support people to meet their needs. Each day, he needed 96 bullets, 6 pounds of food and up to 20 pints of water. Those needs basically amounted to 1 ton of material, food and water each month. For every yard he advanced a soldier needed a team of 18 support troops, clerks and cooks, mechanics and medics to service his needs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faVjvreNHGQ – begin at 44:02)
The soldiers and their support team needed each other - just as we need each other.
Now why did I tell you all that? Well, first, many churches aren’t ready to go to war with Satan. They don’t have the resources; They don’t have the support group; and they barely have a standing army. And one of the reasons they aren’t ready for war is summed up in this verse “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” I Corinthians 14:8
Too many churches don’t give a distinct call for battle. They’re too busy playing “CHURCH”. They’re too busy with programs, and entertainment for the crowd. And as I said last week – they’re just too busy doing ministry for themselves inside the walls of their building.
That’s why we keep hearing people ask this annoying question “Do I Have To Go To Church? They just don’t see CHURCH as a priority.
Now I’ve seen several memes that try to address that question.
#1 - The first one (shown on screen) shows a person trying to put air into a huge tire with these words “Trying to live a Christian life without the fellowship of the church.” Essentially its declaring: “If you’re struggling & you need some AIR in your tires, you need to get to Church.”
#2 – The 2nd one has a very artsy view of church seating with one seat illuminated in white with the words “We have a spot RESERVED for you … we miss you.”
#3 – The 3rd meme is perhaps my favorite. It has a scene from “Mama’s Family” with the son telling Mama “Now Mama, you don’t need to go to church to go to heaven.” To which Mama replies “Well you don’t have to have a parachute on to jump out of an airplane either, but it certainly helps.”
Now I like all of those MEMES… but as I studied for this sermon, I realized that they ALL miss the point. All those memes make church all about you... and it's all about me.
ILLUS: A huge church did a door-to-door survey a few years back and asked (Willow Creek) “If you don’t go to church, why not? The five biggest reasons: (1) Boring, (2) Irrelevant, (3) Asking for money all the time, (4) I’m too busy already, (5) I feel awkward at church.
Notice, all those excuses reflect an attitude of “Church Is All About Me!.” And that’s why people ask “Why Should I Go To Church?” I mean - IF it’s all about ME/ if I don’t feel like being with the church - WHY SHOULD I GO? That’s why those memes don’t hit the mark. Asking that question (“why I should be at church?”) is like a Marine asking: Do I have to go to boot camp? Do I have to go thru drill? Do I have to train and exercise all the time?