Someone recently told me, “The gathering of Christians in worship doesn’t begin to matter in light of the endless string of calamities, tragedies and bad news in the world.”
I think it does. And I say that as someone who spent most of his Christian life disliking church.
I think it matters more every day. A world desperate for Good News needs to find people of faith together, immersed in the Scriptures, coming to God’s table, becoming more like our Savior, and serving the world.
Is it not obvious how much we need to be in the Scriptures together, be challenged together, affirm our faith together, pray together, repent of our sins together, be reconciled to one another, and eat at the Lord’s Table together? But it isn’t just us who needs this. Is this not what our world needs most from those who name the name of Jesus?
I know that the trendy answer is that we should “do more good stuff.” But for all our failings, Christians are already the most powerful force for good in the world. Yes, we could do more, but nothing more or less than the worship of the God and Father of all is what I believe the world most needs from us. This is true even if the world doesn’t know it. Even our American individualism says we do not need anyone else. Even if our church is boring. Even if we are tired. Even if there is a great football game on television or our kids really don’t want to go.
We need to keep meeting together in order to open our minds and hearts, to be changed by the unchanging Word, to refuse division, and to live our lives in light of eternity.
Once upon a time people arrived in California to hunt for gold. Broke, tired, cold and hungry, the forty-niners toiled, hunched over in icy streams for elusive nuggets. A single glimpse of a yellow glimmer staring back from the creek bed was enough for them to keep going. A broken, tired, cold and hungry world desperately needs the glimmer of hope that Christians in adoration of our Savior send.
A high school friend who came to camp with us several years ago powerfully illustrates this truth: He was on a weekend designed to help students hear, see and understand the Good News of God’s love for them. For this young man it was all a big zero. I woke him up the morning after he waxed eloquent of his boredom with all things religious and dragged him to the staff worship service. After we were dismissed for breakfast, I noticed he had tears in his eyes. He told me that he simply had to give his life to Jesus right then and there. When I asked him what was going on he said, “I saw the way you Christians were worshipping and I knew that I didn’t have that kind of love. I desperately need it.”
You in worship are the glimmer of hope God’s world most needs. This Sunday, go to church.
Grace and peace,
Here is a thought on the role of Scripture in worship as we prepare to gather next week…Scripture, the Reformers held, is to be placed in the hands of the people and read in common, so as to knit together a people through deep immersion in the Scriptural story. This, New Testament scholar, Bishop NT Wright says, is at the heart of Anglican worship and life: “the simple, daily, communal reading of the Bible, through which the Spirit forms us as a church and equips us for mission in the world.”
4 thoughts on “Glimmers of Hope: Does going to church even matter?”
Good stuff, Matt.
There’s lot of competition out there. Lot’s of very attractive words. We need to hear the Word and receive it. Even if we have to force ourselves to go to the place where it is.
Sometimes forcing myself to do the right things is a pretty good idea-like vegetables. Or Lent. 🙂
Matt, this was very well written. When I had cancer the first time at the age of 25, I knew I needed to return to church. I had been an Episcopalian my whole life; and after marrying, we didn’t go to church much. My belief in God, being with my family and church family are what has gotten me through some very difficult times in my life. I wish more people could understand this.
Hi Lynn, Thank you for commenting. Thank you, also, for your work with kids at St. Mary’s.