We Cannot Give Up on Church

By: Deji Yesufu

A careful observation of our time will reveal that the times are changing. People’s commitment to divine institutions, like the local church, is waning. There was a time that the traffic on Nigerian roads on a Sunday morning resembled the one you will see on Mondays. It is no longer so. Sundays have become a holiday for many families now; people are giving up on their commitment to church life. The excuses abound: from a church system that tend to weigh members down with financial commitments, to people being generally too busy to come to church; and, even in some cases, a clergy system that is quite unprofessional – so that people who have some common sense in their heads find it difficult to sit under the ministry of a man who has practically no education but has been made the pastor of a local church following a three-month theological diploma he obtained from an unaccredited seminary. The list is endless. In short, church has become increasingly burdensome for many and the natural thing for them is to avoid it entirely. In this essay, I will be suggesting a few reasons why we cannot give up on church life.

There is a scripture in John’s epistles whose meaning can easily be lost on the not-too-careful reader. It says: “If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (I John 4:20). Inherent within the decision to leave church is a hatred for the brethren and as we have seen in this scripture, you cannot claim to love God and hate God’s people. While church will bring up a lot of hypocrisy, backbiting and backstabbing, these people are still the people of God and love for them, and a commitment to the gathering, will make you remain in the gathering. If a church is not teaching heresy; and even where there is a faulty teaching, or an erroneous conceptualization of doctrine; even that should still be stomached – while we pray to God that the Lord will grant repentance to the purveyors of the faulty doctrine. We, however, cannot leave church for issues bothering on the behavior of a brother or a sister towards another. The other option is either to stay at home and be a recluse, which is a sin – a clear violation of Hebrew 10:25; or, to join the night clubbers – which is another kind of church but this time with wine and hedonism, not Christ, as their god.

Another reason why we cannot give up on Church life is because we will all get to certain junctures in our life where we will need the church to carry out certain ceremonies for us. The laws of the land recognize that an ordained minister can baptize people; carry out weddings and bury the dead. There are places where a person can be jailed if he carries out these things without being an ordained cleric. The day will come when an individual gets married. There will be the need some day to bury one’s dead. These are the times when the church comes in. While it is easy to sometimes stretch forth the hand and lay hold on some clergy anywhere and for a fee carry out these things, it will be a thing of integrity to know that the minister you are inviting to officiate any of these ceremonies is one that is well known to you and who is carrying out these activities under God and with utmost truth to you and to all those involved in it. Nothing reveals the deepest hypocrisy than for men to come to such hours of need and to realize that they have no one to turn to. You can be sure that if someone dies in such a state, whether a church carries out the ceremony around their burial or not, they certainly will have no heaven to enter. If they have not been church men on earth, they cannot be heaven’s citizens in the great beyond.

The Church is a reminding institution. The bulk of any sound doctrine is mainly to remind people of what they may already be aware of. Peter told his readers in his second epistle that at that point in his life all that was left of him was to remind them of all that they already knew (2Peter 1:15). The reason we go to church is mainly to be reminded of the gospel of Jesus Christ; to worship God in the person of his holy Son; and to receive new motivations to live for God in the new week. When you do not go to church, no matter how knowledgeable of Christianity you are, the things of these world will begin to crowd out Christ and his word from your heart and because nature abhors vacuum, other things will take those places on your mind. And most times people who stay away from church will only go from one dept of sin to another. At the long run, many of them receive the impetus in them to finally renounce the faith – a faith they obviously never had.

Finally, one other reason you should go to church is so that you may go to receive the means of grace. The scripture talks about our hearts being strengthened by grace (Hebrew 13:9). The grace to live the Christian life comes to us through the preached word: faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. Doctrine strengthens commitment towards evangelical living. But even more: God strengthens us through other means of grace like partaking in the Lord’s Supper, prayer, worship and even fellowship. When God’s people gather in a location, Christ gathers with them. Our Lord will not come to his people and not leave a blessing behind. There is a grace in the physical gathering of the Lord’s people that is imparted on them. It is easy to see why those who are not in such gathering will miss out.

Those who have become quite critical of churches and have chosen not to go to church sometimes have valid arguments. There are too many things wrong with churches today; I will not bore you with a list. I think, however, that sensitive leaders of churches can continually listen to constructive criticisms and see what can be done to make church gathering more Christ-like and less offensive. I am certain that not everything that is wrong about churches will be fixed; I am however confident that when you and I partake of the gathering, and are involved in the life of the church, we stand a higher chance of imparting her positively, than when we stay away. The whole idea of the church being a body is that each member of the body can bring something forward for the continual growth and edification of the church. That, my friend, is another reason you cannot give up on the church.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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