Summary: Church is a place where we may express our love for God, receive spiritual instruction and nurture for ourselves and our children, experience the loving care of God and be of encouragement to each other.
Title: Why Go to Church: Community!
Text: Luke 15
Thesis: Church is a place where we may express our love for God, receive spiritual instruction and nurture for ourselves and our children, experience the loving care of God and be of encouragement to each other.
In case you think flagging church attendance is a new problem, it isn’t. In 1756 Benjamin Franklin led a volunteer militia in defending a Pennsylvania colony against Indian attacks. Franklin and his militia built a fort in the Blue Mountain region and upon completion the militia moved inside the walls.
In his autobiography he wrote about the militia chaplain who complained to him that so few of the men in the militia attended his worship services. Franklin thought about it and settled upon a solution. He put the chaplain in charge of the daily rum ration. It is said that he said to the chaplain, “It is perhaps below the dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum, but if you were to only distribute it after church, you would have them all about you.”
The chaplain accepted the duty and Franklin reported that thereafter the men were punctual in their church attendance.
We’ll not be passing out shooters of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum this morning but we do invite you to enjoy an ice cream sundae following the service today.
Hopefully there are reasons more compelling than ice cream for getting yourself and your family up and around and faithfully attending church from week to week.
The first and most obvious and perhaps most guilt inducing reason is because God says so.
I. Because God says so!
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…” Exodus 20:8-10
The commandment does not specifically say that you have to go to church on Sunday. It does say that we are to keep a Sabbath. And from the earliest practices of God’s people, attending worship was the norm. Jesus observed the Sabbath and the early Christians and Christians throughout history have observed a Sabbath and part of their Sabbath was attending public worship services. “As was his custom,” the bible says, “Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.” And it was “on the first day of the week” that the early Christians gathered for public worship.
The Ten Commandments are given to instruct us in how it is we are to relate to God and others. The first four commandments are about our relationship with God:
• “You shall have no other God before me.”
• “You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water below…”
• “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”
• “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”.
The remaining six commandments instruct us in how we are to relate to others:
• “Honor you father and mother…”
• “You shall not murder.”
• “You shall not commit adultery.”
• “You shall not steal.”
• “You shall not give false testimony…”
• “You shall not covet …”
Jesus said that all of the Ten Commandments can be summed up in two simple commandments, which we call the Great Commandments:
• “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
• “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands.”
I suspect there is at least one experience shared by nearly everyone in this room… I suspect that your mother and your father at some point in their discussion of why you had to do something or why you could not do something, fell back on the old power phrases, “Because I said so!”
You whined, “But why do I have to go to church?” And your mother said, “Because I said so.” Unfortunately I suspect I pulled that one out of the hat a few times myself in my parenting.
Perhaps we might frame the whole “because God says so” argument in a more positive way by saying:
“Going to church to honor and worship God is one of the ways we show our love for God.”
Worshipping God and the nurturing of our spirits is not just an adult thing… worship and nurture is for our children as well.
II. Our children need spiritual guidance.
“The Lord your God is one God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…” Deuteronomy 6:4-7