1. You Want to Earn God’s Approval
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
It’s funny how we can fool ourselves into thinking we can simply solve our sinful condition with God by showing up to a meeting on Sunday. If it were that simple, then why did Jesus die on a cross for our sins? No, it’s not that simple. No matter what you do in life, it will not be sufficient to earn God’s approval, including attending church.
Our salvation is only possible through God’s grace and forgiveness. So if you’re going to church to earn spiritual brownie points and gain God’s approval, don’t waste your time. It will never work. God is not impressed by anyone checking a church box. God is only impressed by a humble and grateful heart wanting to celebrate His love and grace on Sunday.
2. You Want to Meet “Good” People
Romans 7:18 – I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
You may have heard the statement, “If you are looking for the perfect church and think you found it, don’t show up or you will mess it up.” The truth of the matter is there is no perfect church because there are no perfect people. All of us have a sinful nature, which is not good and requires God’s Spirit to mold and shape us into His image. This process takes time and is never complete.
This means that when we come together as a church, we come together as a community of sinful people who are in process. This also means we won’t always do the right things or respond in the right way. Church is not a place to meet good people; it is a place to meet sinful people who are all pursuing a good and perfect God.
3. You Want to Feel Good
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Scripture describes the Christian life as denying self and carrying a cross. Right away, it’s apparent this won’t feel good. The last I checked, a cross represents pain and suffering, not a good feeling. These words of Jesus were meant to confront our misplaced priorities and selfish tendencies toward God. Of course, denying self is a lifelong process and not something that will be easily obtained overnight. It requires God’s Spirit working in our lives along with a prayerful devotion to obeying God’s word.
All that to say, church is a place where we encourage each other in this challenging process and it won’t always feel good. Every Sunday, I hear people say, “Boy that message really kicked me in the butt”. Rarely do I hear, “That message made me feel good.” That is because God’s word will address our selfish tendencies, which won’t feel good but will lead to good. Church is like going to the gym, it won’t always be easy, but it keeps you spiritually in shape.
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