So there’s this thing common in Nigerian churches, or in Nigerian tradition generally – you miss church, and the pastor declares you a sinner. Yes, we are all sinners, but don’t let anyone choose for you how you want to work for God.
Let’s take things back to childhood and parenting.
Parents, in those formative years and by all means, make your children participate in church activities. They can’t really think for themselves yet, that’s why it is encouraged to do this. Your hope is that this tradition stays with them over the years but most importantly, as a parent, you should do things that show your child why going to church isn’t just for show. Do things that make your children see reason as to why you raised him or her that way and most importantly, never associate not going to church as a gateway to hell. There is much more to Christianity than that hell fire talk.
Now to the child, when you grow up, you can choose how you want to serve God. It doesn’t have to involve going to church every Sunday, though it is highly encouraged to fellowship with the brethren regularly; it lifts your spirits and hearing other people’s testimonies definitely strengthens your faith. However, going to church on Sundays just for the sake of it could bring more pain than healing or rejoicing. Singing on the choir just to please your pastor or choir master when you know that truly, your heart is troubled and not in line with God might even bring you more tribulation. On those days, I would advise you to stay at home. Stay at home not because you suddenly don’t love God anymore, but stay at home to commune with your spirit and God’s. Because truly, even after hearing from your pastor, if you don’t go home and meditate on those words for yourself, if you just take what your pastor says word-for-word without consulting God for the final approval, then you are no better than someone on the streets who doesn’t know or serve God. (p.s. none of us is worthy).
Another reason going to church may bring more harm than good is the people who lurk behind church doors to do evil. They lie, they steal, they gossip, they sometimes kill. And you, thinking you are going to serve God may run into one of these people’s traps. I can’t recount the countless stories of church people who have brought darkness and pain to their fellow members while wearing their finest clothes and singing the loudest on Sundays. Or how about the moments you share your pain in confidence with a fellow “Christian brother or sister” only to realize that the entire church knows?
The Church was meant to be a sacred place, a place of holy worship, a place of peace, a place showering with abundant love, a place where people whose hopes had been lost regained peace. Our Lord Jesus Christ created the church for these reasons and more, but it is no longer so and for that reason, you must be vigilant.
So on those Sundays (or Saturdays) where your spirit doesn’t particularly move you to make your way to church, but you keep hearing your pastor’s voice screaming “If you don’t come to church, you are a sinner”, please stay at home and talk to God. He will listen, regardless of your location.
Know that in your place of worship, and in your mode of worship, you can choose the way you want to serve God. Most of us show up tirelessly to church on Sundays and act a fool the rest of the week. Who are we deceiving? Being an usher, choir singer or whatever position in church is great and shows that we want to work for God, but do you know how else you can work for God? Serving Him with your whole heart, evangelizing to people openly or living your life according to His statutes and minding it*. By doing the above mentioned and more, according to the Holy Spirit’s directions, you would have served God without leaving your house every Sunday. How so? Living life as God instructs us to will draw people to you and when they come closer, they will no longer see you but the God in you.
It is my prayer that the actions of the entire Christendom begin to match up with God’s words, with how He wants us to act and with how He wants us to live life; that is the greatest way of serving God. Right now, I see a Christendom that pushes more people away rather than pulling them in. We preach of hell fire instead of love. We go to church on Sundays to please our pastor instead of going to commune with God and drop our worries at His feet.
Seek to make your heart right with God and it won’t matter how often you attend church service.
Have a blessed Sunday! ❣
*P.s. Minding your life is important because not too many people know how to do that these days. If we could live other peoples lives for them, we would.