Last week, I introduced a series – the ‘Why Series’ – that I will be sharing. If you haven’t read the introductory blog, please read it here. My hope is that this series will cause us to question things we have done as routine without really evaluating why we do them to ensure we are pleasing God in all our doing.

Our question this week is: Why do we attend church?

As many as call themselves Christians attend church at least on Sunday while some attend at least one other day a week. Why? I have come up with some reasons some of us have for attending church:

– It is what we do as Christians. Muslims go to the mosque, we go to church.
– As long as I can remember, we have always attended church. It is what we do in my family.
– When I gave my life to Christ, I was told I have to be attending church regularly.
– It is where I get my miracles, breakthroughs, needs met, etc.
– I have clients/customers amongst the church membership.
– If I don’t attend, other church members and leaders will harass my life.
– I want to find a good man/woman to marry.
– I get to see my friends.

All the above are not the right reason to belong to a local assembly or attend church. So what is?

I am of the opinion that one reason we don’t appreciate the most fundamental reason for gathering together as followers of Christ is that we don’t feel the pressure that comes from living in our society as true followers of Christ. Once we leave the place we call ‘church’ on Sundays, we blend into the world the rest of the week. Despite the fact that we are meant to be IN the world but not OF the world, we fail to heed Paul’s words:

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”
(Romans 12:2 TPT)

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world,…” (NIV)

The early church was persecuted because the followers of Christ did not blend into the culture around them. They imbibed Jesus’ culture – His way of life – and this antagonized the non-Christians. Jesus Himself told his disciples,

“Just remember, when the unbelieving world hates you, they first hated me. If you were to give your allegiance to the world, they would love and welcome you as one of their own. But because you won’t align yourself with the values of this world, they will hate you. I have chosen you and taken you out of the world to be mine. So remember what I taught you, that a servant isn’t superior to his master. And since they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…. They will treat you this way because you are mine, and they don’t know the One who sent me.”
(John 15:18-21 TPT)

“You can expect to be persecuted, even killed; for you will be hated by all the nations because of your love for me.”
(Matthew 24:9 TPT)

“Truly I tell you, …, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Mark 10:29-30 NIV)

If in your office, there is a culture of stealing or cutting corners and you, as a follower of Christ “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23), you are likely to make enemies. If as a student, you refuse to cheat (which includes being the one to help others during an exam), you are likely to be hated. If, in your circle of friends who practise premarital or extramarital sex, you take a stand to remain faithful to God and to your spouse, you will be mocked and shunned. In short, if you lead the consecrated – set-apart – life of a follower of Christ, you will be persecuted. There is no avoiding it.

When we face this persecution day after day, we need to run back to the fellowship of followers of Christ to be encouraged and strengthened to stand fast the following week. This is the essence of our gathering together in our local assemblies as the Church of Christ. The Lord gave me an illustration of what should happen when we gather – the Huddle in the game of American football.

Only in American football, does a team, regularly, gather to plot their offensive attack. They form a tight circle so they can discuss plays without the other team seeing what they are signing. Speaking about businesses, Donavan Roberson, a business consultant, in his blog writes, “The huddle is a key element … that speaks to importance of the team by communicating vision, providing clarity and demonstrating unity.”

As the Body of Christ, we need to come together regularly in a ‘huddle’ to encourage and strengthen one another to keep running our race and keep fighting the good fight of faith…..to keep shining as light in the midst of the darkness all around us.

“Beloved friends, what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to build up the church family. Whether you share a song of praise, a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let each one contribute what strengthens others.”
(1 Corinthians 14:26 TPT)

When we gather as a church with our hearts set on worshipping God corporately and fellowshipping with one another in His presence, our feeble knees will be strengthened to run this race set before us because we are strengthened from the inside. If we gather with other wrong motives, we will leave as weak as we came in and will not be as effective witnesses out in the world as our Lord expects us to be. If we gather with the right motives, we will be a mighty battle axe in the hands of our Warrior King and useful in the advancement of His kingdom here on Earth – the reason we are here as His subjects.