You Don’t Have to Be ‘At Church’ Every Time the Door Is Open… But Do You Realize What You’re Missing When You Aren’t?
Because when you’re absent, you miss more than you gain. Like Thomas. The Gospel of John relates this exchange on the day Jesus rose from the dead after he appeared to the 10 (Judas was dead and Thomas was absent):
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (Jn. 20:24-29)
Several things are worth noting here. First, Thomas was absent and didn’t get to experience the first appearance of Jesus after he rose from the dead. Absent from the gathering of disciples, one doesn’t have the privilege of experiencing God in a special way. Second, Thomas fell into doubt because of his absence. Doubt creeps in when we are unwilling to gather with others who believe. The more we absent ourselves from worship with other believers, the more we open the door to doubt’s corrosive effects. And third, Thomas got another chance. Being absent once isn’t the end of the world. You may well have another opportunity to encounter Christ in the community of faith if you avail yourself of the opportunity.
What you miss when you miss worship is Christ. Is what you ‘gain’ by staying away more important then being with Him?
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song, sound the timbrel, the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
He made it a decree in Joseph, when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a voice I had not known:
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would have none of me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their foes.
Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him, and their fate would last for ever.
I would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Ps. 81:1-16)
For the four Wednesday nights of October we’ll spend time together viewing this new and important documentary on the Reformation. You’ll enjoy it very much!
“When the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose… ” (Acts 6:1). Always somebody that’s not happy when things are going well. – Jerry Ireland