Why do you go to church?
Is it something you were raised to do? Do you expect to meet future business or are there for the social aspect? Is it a box you check every week and feel God (and maybe others) expect it of you? Or are you there to seek fulfillment for needs the rest of the days of the week can’t meet?
It is a slippery slope when I haven’t been to church for awhile because I start to feel like I have to. When this happens, I stop and ask myself “Why do I go in the first place?” Certainly, it is as much about my needs as it is to worship God. There is a part of me that can be satisfied only by being in God’s presence. But when I dig down, there are times when I have felt like I’m the insider and those who didn’t go are left out, as if I am privy to something they aren't. I start looking down my nose at others.
So when I take time to ponder the question of why I go in the first place, it is a splash of cold water that reminds me the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. It is then I realize I’ve been chasing after spirituality versus connection. Spirituality or being spiritual has little to do with God. Being spiritual is about dealing with the things other than the material. In theory, that isn’t bad – but the aim is not to get close to God, but rather to expand ourselves. It is a self-driven ambition, one that can lead to pride and condescension towards others.
It was a particular problem of the religious ruling elite of Jesus’ time. They held themselves in very high regard and wanted everyone else to as well. Jesus called them out time and time again because He read their hearts (as He does mine). Their goal was “me,” not "He". Christ came to restore fellowship with God as it once was – in the Garden of Eden. The only intermediary The Father wants between us and Him is His Son. He wants us connected with Him directly so we receive what we need in the temporal and eternal.
The Apostle John drives this point home in the very first section of his first epistle. To John, connection to The Father, through Christ is essential to a successful Christian life. But we can’t do it in isolation; we are connected to each other through Christ as well. And that leads to the height of joy. We are brought and kept out of the darkness, away from just being spiritual, together because we join our spirits with The Lord. Going to church on Sunday is about making sure we are not only filled up, but overflowing. That is how we make it through the week, consumed in and with God’s love, so we can pour it out on others.
When we leave on Sunday, we are watered branches of The Vine – ready to bear fruit. And I believe that is magnified in corporate worship in ways we can’t always get on our own. When we collectively dip our feet into the pool of The Spirit – we are made whole, individually and as a group. We are empowered to do things we would not/could not do otherwise. We can see, testify and proclaim the Good News down through the ages, and carry that torch to the next.
Being spiritual is great, unless I want to do something great. But to do something great, I must be connected to Someone greater than myself. And that is a real reason to go to church!