Summary: Why bother? What’s the point of going to church Sunday after Sunday? What on earth could make it worthwhile to be part of a church community. I mean...come on!
“Why are We Here, Church? – September 7, 2008
Summer is over. School is on once again. The hot weather is slowly leaving us. Autumn is around the corner. Many of us are just kind of finding our feet again back into normal routines. Life continues…church life continues.
Now, something that always helps me get back into the groove is remembering… remembering why I do certain things. Actually, it’s not being clear on why we do certain things that can make it tough to do them. Remembering why is important.
Of course, remembering has always been an important activity of the people of God. The word ‘remember’ occurs 166 times in the Bible. ‘Remember the covenant’, ‘remember the Sabbath’, ‘remember when you were slaves in Egypt’.
So, consistent with that, I thought it would be good to start off September by remembering something very basic. That very basic thing is summed up in the question: “Why are we, church, here? [PPT – “Why Are We Here?”]
There are a whole variety of reasons people come to church, why they get involved in a community of faith. Good reasons, but it’s important for us to understand the best reasons, the Biblical reasons for church.
Good reasons include: church is a good place to meet people; church is a healthy component to a healthy and balanced life; church is a good place to remember we are not alone; church is a good place to be rooted in order to find support; church is a good place for people to come together for causes of justice; church is a way for the community to just come together; church is a good place to get saved. Those are, like I said, good reasons.
But I’ve got to tell you, they are pieces of a larger picture. Elements of a tapestry that God does intend for us. But any one of those reasons, or all of those reasons together is, perhaps oddly, insufficient; a pale and diluted reflection of what God intends church to be. That might surprise you…especially that last point.
So what are the best reasons for belonging to a church family? What are the biblical reasons?
1 OF 3: To Be Found, Together, In Jesus Christ; to Love One Another
Reader reads 1 John 3:11-26
Now that we’ve heard this passage in full, I want to highlight sections of the passage
1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
At first glace this is a little weird. Here and later on it contrasts love with killing, as though love and murder were exact opposites.
Usually we think perhaps of love and hate being opposites. But of course, hate can lead to killing. And love leads to more love. Hating leads to death. Loving gives life.
It’s also a little weird because we’re talking here about ‘loving one another’, which can be a little bit motherhood-and-apple pie.
Of course we should love one another. Let’s say we do and get on with more important stuff.
But of course, there is nothing more important or closer to the heart of God than love…not as a sentiment, not as a Hallmark card, but love that is lived out. So, for a study in contrast in this passage we see hate being lived out. And it leads to the world’s first murder.
One brother choosing to kill another, over envy, over spite…over jealousy perhaps, because Able’s offering was received by God for its care and worshipfulness and Cain’s wasn’t because it was not given with thoughtfulness or care or worship.
If you’ve been here for long you know we usually introduce the weekly offering by saying that it is an act of worship, meant to be given cheerfully to God.
The attitude we bring in our worship matters to God far more than our actions. That’s why the poor widow who gave two mites gave ‘more’ than the rich who gave, materially, more, but whose motive was less worship and more show. Interesting.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
The phrase ‘passing from death to life’ really refers to salvation.
It means that a critical way we can be sure of our relationship with God and our salvation is that our relationship with God is enacted in our relationships with one another.