And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. —Hebrews 10:24-25
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. —Psalms 150:1-2
Why do you go to church? To thank God for the gifts he has given you? Or to prove yourself somehow to your peers? The Bible tells us that we should join hands with our neighbors and attend church with and for one another. Praising the Lord through song and speech together is the main meaning behind attending church – or at least it should be.
God doesn’t care what we look like. He sees everything that we do, everything that we hope and wish for, everything that we wonder and worry about. Church is a neutral space for us to honor God’s glory and show our gratitude. Are you dressing a certain way, praying a certain way, thinking a certain way because you’re concerned about what others will think of you? Remember that God’s opinion is really the only one that counts.
In Genesis, we learn that God created Adam and Eve, and therefore, us, “in His image,” a very powerful idea. Everything we do reflects back on us, and on our faith. When we go to church, we present ourselves just as we are, naked in spirit before God, who knows all. God is compassionate, loving, intelligent, social, and devoted, just as he made each of us.
When we rebel against this idea and start to idolize a form other than God, we act directly against God and His teachings, directly against the Christian faith. Who are you going to church for? Are you going for yourself? Many of us make the mistake of attending church simply to ask God for something – perhaps to fix a broken relationship, for a new chance at life, even for such worldly objects as a car, a new house, or more cash. God doesn’t grant every wish we have. While you may think that your life may be that much better with that new cell phone in your purse, or those new jeans that you can wear out tonight, God isn’t interested in granting requests for material things. He’s more concerned with your health and happiness in other ways – and the health and happiness of those around you.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. —Mark 12:30-31
Instead of worrying about yourself, wondering what God should do for you, and therefore how you can present yourself through material things to your peers, next time you stop by church, remember the true meaning of worship. Pray for your neighbors in need, thank God for the things He’s already blessed you with, and ask for guidance through the world around you.
So think about it: who are you going to church for? Are you more concerned with how you look to your peers or are you going to church for the right reasons – for simple praise and thanksgiving? One way to prepare for your church visit is to pray to God before you go, and make a mental list of the things you want to give thanks for and ask assistance with. Is Grandma still recovering from the hospital? Ask for strength for her. Is your son having issues at school? Ask for patience. Has your niece been blessed with the news of another daughter? Give thanks!
Know that God is with you and that He will take care of you and yours in the best way He can. There is a plan for each and every one of us.