Summary: Is church really worth our time? Our time is inherently valuable so we want to make sure that we are spending our time on things that have value. Is church one of them?
The 9-5, Monday-Friday, 40 hour per week, weekends off work week seems to be a thing of the past for many people. Various start times and shifts throughout the day and night, rotating schedules and “on call” demands have certainly redefined what a “normal” work week looks like. You combine that with the number extra activities that are available for us as individuals and families to do outside of work and school, along with the relative ease of travel and there are just a whole lot of things working against people making time for church. You might even here someone say, “It’s not that I don’t want to come to church, it’s just that we don’t have the time for it, at least not right now.” Time continues to remain one of those commodities that people have not yet discovered a way of manufacturing more of. Yes, there are multitasking and time efficiency strategies, but even those strategies have not found a way of adding an extra hour to the day or year to our lives. If anything, all those time management strategies only reinforce the point that the time is in fact limited. And because time is limited, our time is inherently valuable.
So what are you going to spend your time on? Just like a person has to decide is it worth it spend $145 on a pair of shoes, or $50,000 on a pickup truck, or $5 on the McDonald’s extra value meal, so we are continually deciding what is and what is not worth spending our time on. So what is worth spending your time on? Is church really worth your time?
When we talk about spending time at church, I think it’s important for us to remember a few things about what God does NOT say about church. God does NOT tell us how long our church services need to be. There is no 60 minute rule in the bible. God does NOT tell us how many church services that we need to have each year. While God does NOT tell us those things, God DOES tell us how valuable we are to him. And God doesn’t just tell us, God shows us how valuable we are to him.
In Romans 5:8 the Bible tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God was willing to spend his own Son’s life so that we could experience what we could never experience in this life. Yes, this life is filled with a lot of really good things. We can experience the love of a family, the satisfaction of a job well done, the joy of friendships. But all of those things have been tainted by sin and selfishness: arguments due to thoughtless words, frustration due to laziness or negligence, disappointment due to broken promises. But God wanted you to experience more than what this world has to offer. He wanted you to experience the fullness of his blessing, a peace and perfection that would never end. Yes the cost would be high, but God thought you were worth his time.
God’s Son Jesus left eternity and entered human history to live under the same limitations that we do. Each day Jesus woke up to love God with all his heart, all his soul and all his strength. At every moment of every day, Jesus faced the same decisions face in how he would show that love for God in what he chose to do and not to do, what to say and what not to say. But unlike us Jesus’ decisions were always what God wanted, they always showed perfect love for God. Jesus perfectly balanced patience and action, work and rest, time with friends and time with family, time at church and time in the world. Jesus did that not to prove that it could be done, or to publish a book on time management. No. Jesus did that because he has seen our failures to spend our time in ways that show love for God. He has seen us spend our time on worthless things – drinking that dulls senses and decision-making, entertainment that exploits God’s gift of sex and marriage, social media rants that destroy reputations. He has watched our lives swing out of balance, neglecting family for work, and neglecting work for recreation. He has watched us trade in the eternally valuable for that which is temporary, Bible study for breakfast, Sunday school for soccer, family devotions for TV. Jesus used his time perfectly, for us who have not.
Jesus’ time in this world came to an end when he went to the cross to die. But before he died, he would again experience eternity, but this time not the eternity of heaven. Instead, Jesus experienced the eternity of hell, complete unending separation from God’s goodness and blessing. Jesus suffered that eternity for us, so that we would never need to. He took our place in life and death, and by doing so, he paid the price for our admission into the eternity of heaven. This is how much God thinks that you are worth. As Jesus says, “You are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). If you ever question that, look at what God was willing to spend for you! He was willing to pay with his Son’s life the price for you to experience a life without difficult decisions or disappointment, a life without suffering, selfishness or loss. Life as God intended it to be. That is the life that God gives to every Christian through faith – the life of heaven. Through that relationship of faith in Jesus, he guarantees you forgiveness of sins and eternal blessings. This is a relationship that gives what no one else could possibly give to you.