By : J. Edwards (March 2011)
Dancehall recording artist Shaggy released a song titled “Church Heathen.” Given the reoccurring scandals that include tax evasion to the sordid details of affairs there are thousands of reasons to avoid attending church.
One popular reason is attributed to the hypocrisy of members and leaders who admonish others to do one thing but are unable to follow their own advice. Unfortunately, it is much easier to for many of us to find the “faults” in others before we address those in our own lives. Regardless of this human tendency to make life difficult for each other in more ways than one this is not a reason to stay away from the house of God. Here is one reason.
1) God said so. As juvenile and overly simplistic as this may sound it is the truth. Part of the requirement of being a Christian is obeying God’s word. It is a mandate that supersedes our own desires and feelings in an effort to please Him. While this is by no means an easy task, it is a fundamental piece to how we ought to lead our lives. Attending a church or a gathering of believers in a mutual location is a unique opportunity to worship, learn and strengthen not only ourselves but also others on a regular basis. Paul in Hebrews 10:24-25 states:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as in the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
He encourages believers to meet communally for the benefit of body to encourage each other out of love. This means that attending is not entirely about you and your particular relationship with God but that of your sisters and brothers.
Returning to the original concern that church folk are too hypocritical to associate with I would encourage the skeptic to consider doing one of two things. Firstly it is unfair to blanketly dismiss the merits of an entire institution based upon the shortcomings of a few individuals. Secondly as individuals we all have the power of free will. If you do not like the dynamics of the church you attended in the past or currently, you are more that welcome to look at other assemblies. It is easy to identify those whose judgmental dispositions have turned many away from enjoying their company during services but it is also just as easy to identify those who offer an encouraging word or simply a hug when we struggle. I have personally witnessed the fragmentation of a few congregation thanks to dueling personalities and inflated egos. In spite of these experiences I can always remember people in those same congregations who worked selflessly strengthening others in love and wisdom. While my perception of church initially was soured, my dissatisfaction propelled me to find a church where the congregants left the politics at the door.