Is Teaching People That They Must Go to Church Right?

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

devotional thought of the day

3  So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? Hebrews 2:3 (NLT)

 The cheerfulness you should have is not the kind we might call physiological—like that of a healthy animal. Rather, it is the supernatural happiness that comes from the abandonment of everything, including yourself, into the loving arms of our Father God.  (1)

“Going to confession isn’t like heading off to be tortured or punished, nor is it like going to the dry cleaners to get out a stain, Pope Francis said in a morning Mass homily.“It’s an encounter with Jesus” who is patiently waiting “and takes us as we are,” offering penitents his tender mercy and forgiveness, he said April 29.. ”  (2)

I see it far too frequently, the idea that going to church, or Bible study, or as Pope Francis was talking about, Confession and Absolution is somehow a Christian’s “duty”.   To look at these blessed events as duty is a spiritual error, to teach it as such is simply wrong.   To teach people they must, they have to do these things – is of the gravest error, for it changes their perception, and indeed robs them of the joy David expressed in the pslams, when contemplating going to the temple, when David rejoiced even at the thought of it.

You see all these events, they are not duties, we are not obligated to, in the normal sense of the word.  If we use obligated, it is in the same sense that we are obligated to find treatment for a serious wound, or a broken leg.

We look around – and see our needed of healing, our need of having the things we have screwed up royally fixed,  the relationships mended, and in Christ – there is our only hope.  Our only hope, the only way we can be delivered from the mess we are in, is by Christ – so what hope is there, if we turn our back on that hope?

We are little children, devastated that we have broken that which should be cherished, and we should find the joy that comes from watching our Father patiently make it like new (or replace it) because of His love for us. Such is the ability to abandon all our fear, all our anxiety, all our grief and shame, for our Father is hear, and all is abandoned as He brings us comfort and peace.

It is that encounter- with the presence of Christ. in the worship service/mass, to realize He is patient with us, not willing destruction – but complete transformation, complete rebirth, complete renewal.

Such is the nature of spending time doing what some call “Christian Duty”  or Spiritual Disciplines.  Reading the Bible, Prayer, Worship, Gathering with other believers, and yes confessing our sins and hearing Christ speaking words of forgiveness and restoration.  To speak of them as duties or disciplines reduces them in people’s minds to being about us, our work, our efforts, our accomplishments, our excercises.

Rather than encounter with Christ, a glorious, freeing, encounter with the One who loves us, who calls us His beloved, His friends… the children of God.

So next time you think about doing these things – realize Who you will meet – and in joy – rush to Him, abandoning all that would restrict your joy together.

Godspeed!

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1539-1541). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1301891.htm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on May 2, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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