Supposed To, Have To, or Want To?

Here is the headline I read just minutes ago:

Across faiths, religious rules bent as virus alters worship

The article goes on to describe all the different religious leaders who are implementing initiatives to protect their congregations from the coronavirus.  From the Roman Catholics halting Mass, to Orthodox Jewish rabbis, to Evangelicals and even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… everyone would think that America’s faith-based element in our society is finished, we’re closing it down. One prominent exception to this movement is the First Baptist Church of Dallas, pastored by Dr. Robert Jeffress.  He is quoted as saying,

“What we do is more important than what the NBA is doing. That is entertainment. That’s optional, worship is essential.”

The church my wife and I attend is among those who will not have a joint meeting at the physical location of the church building this morning.  However, in a rather creative way, our church is offering an on-line experience at 10 AM central time.  And if you would like to join us, click here.

All of these actions across the USA are stimulated or are attributed to COVID-19.  Which caused me to ponder a few things.

The basic question I pose is this:

Do we attend worship because we are supposed to, because we have to, or because we want to?

I’m convinced more people would choose “supposed” to or “have” to, rather than “want” to.  Maybe this is because in my early days, my mother and dad imposed on me the “have” to mindset of: “The church is open, we’re going to attend.”  It wasn’t ever really my choice, it was theirs, and I was under their authority (at least for a time), and that was that.

Later, after I left home, my attitude fluctuated between “have to and supposed to” as I stretched out my right-to-choose spiritual wings.  I found myself sleeping in some Sundays, or suffering through another session of guilt-laden “have to” syndrome on others.  Finally, as I matured both physically and spiritually, I realized something.  It isn’t really worship in the true sense of the word, unless it is given willingly, and by choice.  Worship, of all spiritual activities, is a choice.  We worship in the truest sense, when we worship like Jesus told the woman at a well in Samaria.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. [John 4:24]

Which caused me to think next,

Is church the only place we can worship?

Now, we have to be careful here.  Because some false teachers have led many astray by suggesting no one needs to go to church – for any reason, including the three I presented here.  So, I’m making a distinction between going to church, and true worship of the LORD of heaven and earth.

The answer might lie in understanding what Paul was really saying to the men of Athens regarding worship.  These men were so wrapped up in not missing any of the idols of gods dreamed up all over the world, they had constructed one to “The Unknown God.”  So, given the opportunity, Paul the Apostle says:

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth... [Acts 17:24-26]

Here’s the point.

We don’t go to church because that is where God is (dwells according to Paul).  In fact most people wouldn’t go at all if they thought God would dwell there, their guilty conscience’s  wouldn’t allow them to be comfortable there.

One of the greatest dangers of the current COVID-19 world-wide panic, might just be the elimination of faith-based practices world wide; of gathering together for the Worship of God.  But one thing this virus will never be able to do, is keeping God-loving people, the true Bride of Christ, from worshiping Him in homes, or one-on-one with Him.

The very thing the enemy of Christ wanted to do in the first century was to wipe out the spread of Christianity, by eliminating gatherings of believers.  The church has always been persecuted, but has remained strong and committed to the message of hope in the gospel of Jesus.

So, worship is a “want to” choice.  You can choose to do it at home.  You can choose to do it in a group.  You can choose to do it in a large church. Where is not really the issue.  But it is only truly worship, when it emphasizes the object of our worship – Jesus Christ – as LORD of all, in control of all, having authority over all, and present right where we are.  When we declare these truths by singing together, reading His word together, and celebrating His grace together… well, simply put, the enemy of Christ loses, and we win.

A virus will never stop the spreading of the Authoritative word of God.

Choose to go to worship today.  Online, with a friend, or with a group of friends… even if your church is closed to protect the larger congregation!


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