Summary: This message looks at what it means to be the family of God
The Church, The Family of God
Over the past couple of years the media has made having a hay day with the news that fewer and fewer Canadians are attending church on any giving Sunday. They cite statistics that as a people Canadians seem to be becoming more spiritual, that is they pray more and meditate but they are not going to church as much. You ever wonder why that is? Well you are in luck because this morning we have the top ten reasons why people don’t go to church. You ready? Here we go the # 10 Relate to Jazz and rock more then Handel and Bach # 9 Would rather sleep in own bed then pew # 8 Already served time as a child # 7 During organ music I think of Don Cherry # 6 Can only remember 3 commandments # 5 Feel guilty enough already # 4 When I want to feel guilty I call my mother #3 Last time I kneeled I had a hard time getting up again # 2 People that happy just give me the creeps and the number one reason people don’t go to church: It just isn’t relevant.
Well that was fun but what would happen if we were to go out and ask people on the street why they don’t go to church? Let’s see (Video clip from e.seentials vol. 3 No. 5 “Word on the street_ Why don’t you go to church?”)
Maybe you can relate, and maybe you can’t. If I think back to before I had a relationship with God church really wasn’t something I thought about, church was what other people did. And for people who are like that it’s mostly because they see church in a couple of different ways.
1) Some See Church as an Obligation. There are people out there who see church as an ought to or a got to. When I was a kid and a teenager if I was visiting at my Grandmother Guptill’s house I knew that if I was there over a Sunday there was an obligation to go to church. You might choose not to go to church but then you really didn’t qualify for Sunday dinner. It was pretty much a no brainer. So I would go, and smile and sing the songs or at least fake smiling and singing the songs. I was there not because I wanted to be I was there under duress or at least as a courtesy to Gram, it was important to her so I went. And I don’t think it hurt me that much, it did mean that when someone asked what religion I was that I had an answer: I’m a Baptist. I didn’t really know what a Baptist was but I knew that the only church I ever attended was Baptist so I must have been a Baptist.
When I was in High School my best friend’s girlfriend thought they ought to go to church, and so to keep her happy he went. That was out of obligation. He was Anglican and she was Catholic and they wanted to find middle ground and so they choose to try a Wesleyan Church because his brother was a Wesleyan Minister. They heard that Wesleyan was kind of like Baptist so they dragged me along as a translator. I went out of obligation.
Maybe you attend to make your spouse happy or to make your parents happy. That’s attending out of obligation. I’ve been preaching for 30 years and I can usually tell when someone is here out of obligation. But to be honest it probably won’t do you any harm. The night that I chose to follow Christ, I had gone to church that night out of obligation to get my best friend off my back.
Sometimes the obligation isn’t to another person it’s an obligation that is felt to God. Kind of covering all the bases, you’re sure that somewhere in the 10 commandments it says “Thou shalt go to church”. You’re not positive of all that God requires but you’re pretty sure that going to church is part of that. And you figure that when you get to the pearly gates that if the question “did you go to church?” is on the admittance questionnaire you’ll at least have that one right.
Psychotherapist Wayne Dyer made the comment that “Relationships based on obligation lack dignity.” Dyer went on to say “If you are living out of a sense of obligation you are a slave.”
That doesn’t sound like fun. Hmmm
2) Some See Church as an Event. “Today family we are going to church.” Kind of like going to the movies or going to the circus. It’s an event not an everyday happening. Sometimes those events are things like baptisms, weddings and funerals. I heard someone refer to those events as hatching, matching and dispatching. Kind of like the fellow who said “Preacher the first time I went to church they sprinkled water on me and the second time I went they threw rice at me.” The preacher thought for a moment and then replied “Yeah and I suppose the next time you come we’ll throw dirt on you.”