What is the main reason that you go to church ? Do you find that you are not watching the virtual church service some weeks? I know that it is not as easy to relate to the sung worship when it is ‘just a video performance’, and you can work out how long the preach is before you start listening! If you are like me you would like covid-19 to be eradicated and we get back to ‘normality’. But that would still bring us back to my first question.
Let me suggest a few reasons: Do we enjoy the interaction with other people? (How are you today?), Do we enjoy the sung worship? (that song is a particular favourite of mine), We may even enjoy the sermon! (that was very relevant to everyone). Do we just gather to come away feeling good about ourselves? Would we come early and help tidy the chairs, check the sound system, make the coffee, or pray with someone after the service? Do we get a certain buzz in helping out behind the scenes or help prepare the virtual service? Then we can ‘go home’ feeling we have contributed to ‘God’s work’.
All the above are necessary for the church to function, for services to be held. For the other things we do like Life Groups, prayer meetings and friendship groups. All these things need people to help, to make a regular commitment of time and energy so that they can function well, and many people do give such a commitment. But there is always a gap, a space to be filled, another job vacancy. So why is it that there are never enough people to fill the jobs? It may be that we are looking at things the wrong way round. In the church we usually find that 80% of the ‘work’ is done by 20% of the people. If we come to church only to go home feeling better about ourselves then it is no wonder we get disappointed.
Our value should always be found in who we are in Christ Jesus, not in what we do. The reason we do things at church is because we realise what Jesus has done for us. Not a way of earning a place in God’s family, but obedience to the great commission, an attitude of worship. Not for our own benefit but for other people’s. The greatest value comes from our willingness to serve God and others. It was said of the early church that they were ‘turning the world upside down’, an observation about the principles they lived by. Mark 8: 34-35 (CEV) Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. Or again in Mark 9: 35 (CEV) After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, “If you want the place of honour, you must become a slave and serve others!”
We believe that the bible states that we can all have a part to play in God’s church, regardless of who we are, and everyone is invited to join in. 1 Peter 2: 9 (CEV) But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. The concept of serving applies to our whole life, not just the church bit! So as Paul tells thee arly church in Colossians 3: 23-24 (CEV) Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your earthly master. In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving.
Another clue as to the right motive can be found as Paul writes to the Corinthian church. It is for the sake of mission. 1 Corinthians 10: 31-33 (CEV) When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honour God. Don’t cause problems for Jews or Greeks or anyone else who belongs to God’s church. I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved. Can we say the same?