Most Sundays I wake up and think, “I’m too tired to go to church today.”
My alarm goes off at 5:30 am during the work week. By the time I get up, get ready, and drive 45 minutes to the school where I teach, it’s now almost 8:00 am. I power through my day (fueled by several cups of coffee), drive home, then switch back to “mommy mode” for the rest of the evening. It’s what most working people have to do to to get the bills paid, I know. And I also know that there are people out there who work several jobs to make ends meet. I don’t have to do that. Blessed, for sure.
Still though, by the time the weekend rolls around, I just wanna crash. We’re up and at it again for 8:00 am soccer practice on Saturdays, along with catching up on housework and shopping for groceries (aka the bain of my existence). Since I am a music teacher, I often have Saturday work commitments with my middle and high school students. Most Saturdays we try to squeeze in a family outing, or at least a movie snuggled up together on the bed.
Sunday is literally the only day of the week that I could sleep in. And most Sundays, that’s the first thing on my mind when the alarm goes off. “I’m too tired to go to church today…I’ve had such a long week…God won’t care if I miss this week, right?” Sleeping in. So. Darn. Tempting.
The reasons that initially kept me going back to church each week were selfish ones. I joined the choir and I often got solos. There were many young families at our church with children around the same age as my daughter, and the kids would sit together in the pews and leave us parents alone (hallelujah!). A semi-monthly gathering of female parishoners called Women at the Well brought the promise of a child-free evening with delicious food – and wine! Church was shaping up to be a pretty fun place to be!
Slight problem, though. None of that has anything to do with Jesus. Oops.
So what should be our reason for wanting to attend church every week? Worship, of course. Our first and foremost job as Christians is to worship and love God. But can’t we just do that from home in our pajamas with a cup of coffee? Why do we have to physically attend church services when there are a million online bibles to peruse and prayer groups to join?
Jesus specifically calls us to gather together in a body of worship. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Jesus’ disciples echoed this call. In the book of Acts, Luke writes, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
When we gather together to worship, miraculous things happen. Prayers are requested and offered. Testimonies are professed. Gospel truths are proclaimed. Illnesses and pain are healed. The body and blood of Christ are shared. And in the midst of this, God is glorified. Yes, I could stay home and “get my church on” with Joel Osteen, but I would be missing an incredibly crucial and integral part of Jesus’ teaching – worshiping God in one body. If I’m not doing that, am I really worshiping the one true God?
Our call to worship God is followed closely by a call to serve others and to make disciples in His name. Easier said than done, right? I’m more than happy to serve others. I’m a mom and a teacher, so it’s sort of ingrained in my DNA.The disciple-making part? That scares the dickens outta me. Ever heard the opening song to the musical “The Book of Mormon”? That’s enough to scare someone of any denomination away from trying to make disciples. It’s a work in progress for me, and I often pray for guidance, courage and faith in order to take even the first step. But here’s what I know for certain: you can’t attempt this part of the call alone. You can’t serve others from your couch, and you sure as heck can’t make disciples by sitting around watching TV. Gathering together in fellowship with others is the only guaranteed way to be able to serve and to evangelize.
I am so blessed by my church family. God placed me in a church that has given me the chance to learn and grow as a Christian. He has given me some amazing friends who understand what it’s like to try and navigate this crazy world with a clear head and a Christian heart. He has given me my best friend, a woman who is caring and kind, and has taught me how to speak the truth in love. He’s given me all that, AND he gave me Jesus! Wow. That’s pretty mind-blowing.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have any of that if I slept in.