Is it anything great that we serve a God that we are all bound to serve anyway, do you believe that you are being obedient because you are supposed to, or because you want to? And if this type of mentality of a required service is within you, are do doing everything that you are commanded to be doing, or have you turned your faith in Christ into one of works in Christ?
I have found that some who attend church on a regular basis do so only because of this ideology, they believe that they are required to, the assembling of themselves, (Heb. 25:25) together has become the driving verse of their lives. This work that they are performing gives them reason to say to the world, to themselves and to others that they too are part of the kingdom of God, that they belong to His family. I will not second guess the pretense of their hearts, that is for God alone to decide, but I can give occasion to what I see outside of the church building when it comes to the relationship that these individuals have with the Lord, for we are known by our fruits. (Matt. 7:16)
There seems to be very little relationship between church attendance and fruit any more outside of the building called a church, I speak not here of those religious organizations that teach a message of works that must be done along with what our Lord did on the cross for all of us, but those places of worship that understand that no one comes to the Father but through the Son, (John 14:6) and that no works will be counted as worthy when they are added onto this truth. Christ alone paid the price for our salvation, anything that we try to add to that sacrifice is an abomination.
There should be a joy within us when we enter the church building, a knowledge that He has come with us into this place, not that He was waiting for us there. There are those even in what we will call here the Christian community that look at the church building as a hallowed, holy place, almost as if it is the same as the Holy of Holy’s in the tabernacle of the Old testament, a structure that is set apart because it is the place where people come to worship God. These are generally individuals that see the building as something more than what it is, someplace that God has set apart for himself, that this is where He waits for us until we return the following weekend.
Some of these people that we are speaking of here are very religious, if you will, when they are there, that the finest clothes they own are to be on their backs, their best demeaner is always upon them, they behave in a way that is not always representative of who they are, they think on the outward appearance more than the inward devotion, they are performing works instead of the sacrifices of praise. Smiles abound even when they are feeling depressed or are going thru a trial, for they would not want to be a burden on their brothers and sisters, songs are sung while they think of their plans for the rest of the day, and their minds wander to other items as the message is preached, but they are there, they are in attendance and that is all that matters, the act of being a Christian has been performed one more time. I have heard it said by more than one fine man of God that the doors of the church can be related to the eraser at the end of a pencil, as soon as the congregation passes thru them, they have forgotten nearly everything that was taught that morning, and I tend to agree.
For these who believe that the church building is a holier place than the rest of the structures within the community, I would ask one thing, when a church is destroyed by let us say a tornado, flood, hurricane or other event that is commonly known as an act of God by the lost, was this a punishment from the Lord, or an opportunity to further glorify His name? Why do small groups who are in the beginning stages of worship nearly always tend to look for a place that they can call their church when the structure they are in is still of adequate size for the congregation that is attending, why does it need to be a building with a cross on it somewhere?
Many years ago, I was blessed to lead a young man to Christ and felt compelled to continue to teach him in the Words and will of God. This man owned a vehicle repair shop, and the place was dusty and at times dirty, for the work was of that nature, but each Wednesday evening when I arrived with my Bible there was a large area of the shop that had been swept clean and was prepared with tables and chairs to sit upon so we could open His word for an hour or so. Within a two-year period of time there were upwards to fifteen men sitting around those tables, and sometimes these evening adventures into the Scriptures would go on until midnight, an unbelievable blessing. Satan though did not like this one bit, and as I have in the past, I again fell prey to his wiles.
I could see what was happening within me and so I prayed earnestly for the Lord to send someone to take my place, someone who would not lead these men astray for they were all new believers and were at risk much more than myself. The way that the Lord sent this man to that area was a miracle in itself, and perhaps one day that account will be told, we will see how the Lord leads, but suffice it to say he was a much stronger man of God than I was at that time in my life. Within just a week or two though, this man of God moved the Bible study out of the dusty and dirty mechanic shop into the basement of the local library, feeling perhaps that it was not a proper representative place for the study of the Word of God to be taught in. This small, two-man Bible study meeting has grown into a fine church in that town.
This is what can happen when we stop believing that the church is where God is and start to realize that where we are is where God is. Where did the first churches begin to meet, in people’s homes, in the houses that they cooked their food in, slept in the evenings and raised their families in. How many times do you think that these individuals sat around and thought, “You know, we should find a building to rent or go to the bank, get a loan, and build us a fine church.” Do you know why you should think about moving out of the place where you have begun these Bible studies at? Because the place is no longer big enough to accommodate all the people that the Lord is sending to it, there is absolutely no other reason. In the houses of God-fearing individuals is where the first churches started, and I believe that is where it will return to and probably end there as well. There are far too many churches in the world that are nothing but a sham, the people show up, do their works for the week and then go back to the business of the world, and the things that they enjoy in it.
These individuals toss their Bibles in the back window of the car or on the same place it sat last week, and it will sit there for the rest of the week until the ritual is repeated next weekend. Their lives for Christ revolve around the stopping of the things in them that they believe they should quit so that God will love them more, another work for the walk, and their prayer lives are almost always the same, me and my wants and needs. They are doing what they believe they are supposed to be doing, but not because they want to do it, the moral construct of their own minds are not in line with the Word or will of God, works of many various sort have replaced that long ago. These will show up to the church building next weekend, feel better about themselves, and repeat the routine until their dying day or until someone shows them the truth about themselves and the error of their ways.
It is just a building my friends, God is not there unless you are, the church is the people of the Lord Jesus Christ, not an address in your community.