A common term used in today's Christian Religion is to "go to church." However, when put in proper perspective this term makes about as much sense as asking someone how much does the color black weigh. The Church, the Body of Christ, is not a place to go to, but rather it is a true spiritual Body that is made up of all true (born-again) followers of Christ. This is the difference between a church (a manmade building) and the Church (a God made living Body) and they are drastically different in so many ways. Once someone hears the gospel, they have the choice to either surrender everything to follow Christ and become part of the Church or to reject the gospel by holding onto their lives in this world and go find a church to join. This rejection, a truly blasphemous act, is the option most chosen by mankind each and every day. On the contrary, the choice to accept the gospel by surrendering all, a life changing act, is made by only a few each day.
Therefore, being a member of a church is common practice for mankind without Christ. However, being a member of the Church is truly the only thing that matters for those who seek citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Nevertheless, countless people who claim to be Christian have never made this surrender from the heart and falsely believe they will enjoy eternal life. Satan, the father of lies, is the primary force behind the many half-truths that deceive those who are looking for a way to heaven outside of giving up everything in this world for Christ. Hence, they will decide to surrender to a counterfeit gospel, more of an insurance policy, that promises eternal life. Yet, this false investment can never deliver on that promise of heaven. Moreover, this counterfeit gospel is usually entered into through some form of "sinners pray" that these make-believers have prayed at a Christian concert, revival, bible study, church service, etc. where offered an opportunity to avoid hell by making this verbal commitment.
Furthermore, these unsaved and deceived people are blinded by the lies of doctrines and traditions that appeal to them so they can continue to live life the way they wish to. Thus, because they remain spiritually dead with no true relationship with Jesus, they embrace the idea that if they "go to church" and try to follow the rules laid out by these institutions that do not offer enjoy eternal life. Likewise, the primary difference between their lives now and their former lives before their "sinner prayer" moment is that they try to live better lives (less sinning, swearing, drinking, etc.). Many of them will even go out and get a bible in an attempt to understand how they should live their lives as churchgoers. Regrettably, the local church system provides a place of refuge for these people as they believe they have found a new life, but for many nothing ever really changes in their lives over time.
Moreover, these manmade institutions provide a place for so-called converts to invest themselves in doing what they perceive as good things for God. Each week these people meet to sing songs, listen to teachings, and sometimes talk even break out in conversations with others who frequent these establishments. Here they can kind of "clear their conscious" and provide outward volunteer work in programs like Sunday School, worship teams, and greeters. Many will aspire to something even higher such as to be a reader, elder, teacher, and maybe even pastor. Although there are mild differences from one local church to another, they all usually follow a similar basic traditional format each week.
What's more, many of these individuals will move around from one local church to another until they find one that offers what makes them feel most comfortable (or less convicted of their lifestyle). This ongoing ritual will continue week after week as these people believe that this is what it means to be a Christian. If you ask them what the church is, they will answer with something like this. "Church is a place where each week we sing some songs, say a short hello to one another, have announcements and the offering, listen to a well-constructed sermon (hopefully), and end with a closing song and prayer." Sadly, this is true for many and after each week's service everyone heads for their cars to venture into another week of routine life in this world only to come back next week to do it again.
However, what would happen if we all stopped going to these local church institutions? Maybe the more important question would be what Jesus would say if we did? Would He chastise us because He needed people to sit in the seats of these local church buildings? Would He tell us He is upset because He had no worship teams to play songs or teachers to teach eloquent sermons? Maybe He would be upset that there were no people there to hear these eloquent sermons, no money to pay the bills, or some other reason?
Truthfully, I do not believe for a moment Christ would say any of that. Actually, I do not think these are the things that matter in the kingdom of heaven at all. If someone wanted to, they could twist the scriptures to make a case for these things, but nowhere is it spelled out that we must live this way for Christ. These are manmade practices handed down through time. Think of how many people would be frustrated and anger if the congregations stopped attending these manmade institutions that only lead people into a false sense of eternal security.
Thus, this leaves us with the question of what it truly means to serve the kingdom if it's not being a part of weekly rituals. True followers of Christ do not need to play church once they realize what they are really here on earth for. Furthermore, just as Jesus taught us throughout His ministry, serving the kingdom is an everyday calling not some weekend event. Jesus clearly placed no day above any another as he worked, healed, and performed miracles regardless of what the religious leaders of the day had to say. Jesus taught that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few and so we should be ready to serve every day.
We do not have to be in a "church building" to worship, pray, fellowship, and be discipled and we certainly should not limit these activities to a single day. This is a product of years and years of tradition and some people know of no other way. However, there is a far better way. Our true ministry is to reach the broken and hopeless scattered around the world. The local church buildings are mostly populated with people like this, but they choose to believe they are already righteous. Jesus told the Jews who thought they were righteous, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32).
Consequently, it is important to understand what Jesus will actually say when He returns. "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?' And the King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.'" (Matthew 25:31-40).
Hence, it is easy to see what Jesus will measure our lives against. He wants us to serve Him daily to reach those who are lost and broken with hearts readied to hear His calling. We who belong to Christ are His servants and we are not here to build our own little Christian world on earth. Furthermore, we must open our hearts to the truth and realize that today's local church system is an institution that works outside the kingdom of heaven. In the end, the Lord is not going to care if we were part of some local church or not!
Thus, Jesus will measure whether or not we are true servants of the kingdom of heaven based on how we served His kingdom. "Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' And they too will reply, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then the King will answer, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:41-46).
Regrettably, there will be many on that final day who will argue, "Did we not serve on your worship team? Did we not attend your local churches? Did we not preach eloquent messages for your people to hear each week?" I do not believe they will like the answer to these questions on judgement day. My prayer is that everyone will repent of a religious life governed by false doctrines and dead traditions. The Lord said there is much work to be done, won't you join in with those who will, in the end, enter into God's rest. Our sabbath will come soon enough once our work here on earth is completed. "There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:9-11).
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Why Do People Go To Church?
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