Church attendance is not a must where I was raised, and so I grew up thinking that it’s fine if you can’t get up early in the morning on a Sunday to go to church because you slept late Saturday night, or because there is this thing that needs to be done on a Sunday because you can’t do it any other day in the week, or because you worked very hard from Monday to Saturday, you just deserve a break. God will understand, anyway.
FOR IT IS GOD’S WILL…
The church I belong to here on earth does not “require” us to attend the weekly mass; it does not impose rules on church attendance. But something indescribably beautiful happened as I grew in reading the Scriptures daily.
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
But what does it mean to look on the Son and believe in him? Believing comes after listening and in listening, James, one of Jesus’ brothers says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
And it says we must “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
The Apostles also received this very same instruction from Jesus.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42
OR AND PRAYING TOGETHER
While it’s important for us to spend some time alone in prayer, as Jesus often did, it is equally important to meet together to fellowship and worship with other believers for He Himself said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
Reading the Scripture daily has become not just a habit but a way of life – like there is this deepening of my relationship with my God. As this relationship deepens, God Himself ignites in my heart the desire to meet Him at church together with other believers. It’s the very same place I went to when I was little and I kept hearing the same messages over and over again. But after I have chosen to open my heart to His grace, there’s always a new message for me every Sunday; something that sustains me for the week-long journey, until I am given another chance to come back the following week. But even if I have chosen, only God can change a person’s heart.
The church I belong to here on earth does not impose rules on church attendance, but it continues to encourage us and wait eagerly for us as that father waited for his prodigal son to come back home.