Five Bad Reasons to Go to Church

Why do we even go to church at all? To worship God? To be entertained? To have all of our preferences met?

Jesus reminds the Israelites that they went to the wilderness to hear John speak. They did not sit in plush auditoriums with fresh brewed coffee to hear God’s word at their convenience. They were willing to endure discomfort to hear from God. Would we go into the wilderness, sit in uncomfortable chairs, suffer through less than professional musicians (or children’s ministries) to worship with saints and hear the word of God declared?

 

I know a pastor whose church split over the color of the ceiling.

Black, as any good Christian should have known, is the color of evil. The devil may disguise himself as an angel of light, but he certainly keeps his office painted with the baleful hue. “Should we lift the devil’s dye in the congregation of the righteous? May it never be!” the faction declared. And when the demands were refused, they left. The body could not endure such colorful compromise.

When a church splits over the color of the ceiling, one must wonder: Why do we even go to church at all? To worship God? To be entertained? To have all of our preferences met?

Why Do You Go to Worship?

Jesus asked people of his day the same thing when they went to hear the preaching of John the Baptist.

Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:7–10)

Surveying John the Baptist’s ministry and Jesus’s questioning of the crowds, God gives us five bad reasons to go to church.

1. To Be Comfortable

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? (Matthew 11:7)

Church, if we’re not careful, can become a suitable backup for those who cannot afford a country club. Free childcare, beautiful people, motivating messages, an inviting place to belong, coffee, donuts, and all sorts of modern conveniences could even draw someone who doesn’t love God at all. Such conveniences need not be bad if they do not lull us to sleep or blunt our zeal.

Jesus reminds the Israelites that they went to the wilderness to hear John speak. They did not sit in plush auditoriums with fresh brewed coffee to hear God’s word at their convenience. They were willing to endure discomfort to hear from God. Would we go into the wilderness, sit in uncomfortable chairs, suffer through less than professional musicians (or children’s ministries) to worship with saints and hear the word of God declared? They went into the wilderness to hear John.

The party, fog, strobe lights, and palace did not draw them. They went to a place they would never go — unless the prophet were there.

2. To Hear Wobbly Opinions

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (Matthew 11:7)

Jesus confronts what seems so prevalent these days: uncertain teaching. This prophet wasn’t the popular Bible teacher of today, who explains away the parts he finds problematic or makes a name for himself questioning orthodox belief. He did not rely on skepticism or suspicion to prove his authenticity and gain a following. He did not discuss; he preached. He did not question; he answered. He did not shake in the breeze; he stood firm upon the rock.

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