Why do I Go to Church?
Hope is Not Beyond Our Grasp
Erik the Red, a ferocious Viking descendant living in newly established Iceland, followed in the footsteps of his dad. His father had come to Iceland after being expelled from Norway for an unjustified killing, and now Erik faced the same trouble: banishment from Iceland for 3 years.
Would we like to have friends like that?
But where do you go when you’ve been banished from the land you stand on, and all you can see is endless ocean water?
Erik was a proud man, and he decided to look for a rumored land further west. He set out in a boat, and he eventually landed on an island covered year-round with ice. He probably thought that this island was more suited to be called “Iceland” than his native home, which has a more moderate weather pattern. None-of-the-less, upon his return to Iceland, Erik enticed settlers to follow him to this new land by calling it Greenland.
Pretty deceiving, don’t you think?
Is it any wonder that Erik’s oldest son, Leif, also went looking for new lands farther West? But Leif did not follow in his father’s steps. He broke the pattern established by his ancestors, for crime did not force him to leave his land. In fact, he never caused trouble. He loved to help others. In fact, he earned the title of “Leif the Lucky” for himself by saving victims of a shipwreck.
So why was it that Leif broke the generational pattern? Why was he so “lucky”? Because Leif was a Christian. Jesus, the Christ was His Master.
Aren’t we the lucky ones as well? There is hope, even amidst generational patterns geared towards crime!
And for someone living in the 10th century, there was hope of finding the rumored land in the West, and Leif was the one to discover it. He called it “Vinland”, which in English means “Wine Land”, because of the abundance of wild grapes that grew there. Artifacts of Leif’s brief stay in “Vinland” can still be found in the area we now know by the name of L’Anse aux Meadows, situated on the northern tip of Canada’s Newfoundland. Leif the Lucky had discovered North America!
Being a Christian, Leif knew the importance of attending church. This is what he found out about why any believer wouldn’t want to miss such meetings.
The Bible also encourages us to not miss church! The best texts on this topic can be found in Hebrews 10:23-25, and just as Leif discovered North America bit by bit, we’ll explore this passage verse by verse:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb 10:23 NIV)
Our first motivation to attend church is to hold on to the hope that has filled our souls when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. In a hectic world such as ours, filled with constant problems (Just look at the news if you don’t believe me), hope can quickly be buried under the many trials we are facing. We may easily forget that, “surely I (Jesus) am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20 NIV), and when we do, our tendency is to rely on our own abilities instead.
I think we all have experienced times when our hope needs revival, especially now that we live in end times. Trouble is ever brewing, but hope can look beyond these difficulties, for our future as sons and daughters of the Almighty is guaranteed!
“But,” you say, “I didn’t have any problems this week. My hope in Jesus is well alive and kicking. Guess I don’t need to go to church!”
What about your friend Bob? He had a tough week. And who is best suited to revive his hope that seems to be slowly dimming?
Hope is what drove Leif Erikson to North America. Hope is what motivated Leif to not perpetuate the evil of his ancestry. Hope makes a difference in this world!
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:24 NIV)
One of the best things to do when we become discouraged is to become involved in helping others who are in need. This is one of the best ways to discover how God has really been at work! And where else but in church are we spurred to help others?
Do you know what happens when circumstances dim our view of Jesus Christ? The first thing we let go of is our love towards others. The first thing we neglect is our ministry for God. As a result, many end up discouraged and bitter.
It all could have been avoided if only someone had been there to encourage us! And this, friends, is the role of any true Christian church!
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25 NIV)
And here is another important reason for attending church: To encourage each other and to help those around us lift their eyes beyond their circumstances. This is true, authentic love! We are there for one another! We encourage each other!
I have started trying to arrive at church a bit earlier than normally. Why? So that I can greet people with an energetic smile and a heartfelt handshake. You know what I have discovered? Those with sad faces usually brighten up. Just a little hug, or even a handshake, can serve to fill someone with hope. It’s true that some need more than a handshake, and we are also there to listen to them, to help them refocus on Jesus. His promise: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18 NIV).
How rewarding to be part of such experiences!
King David saw much more about attending church than many of us.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Ps 27:4 NIV)
Don’t we go to church for God? Isn’t it to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”? Isn’t it to be reminded that God has always come through for us?
We may wish for better timing, but God always comes though just at the right time, for He considers every aspect of our being, our anger issues, our patience, our lack of motivation, our lack of love . . .
Aren’t we in church to “seek Him in His temple”? How do we react when we feel His presence in the congregation? Don’t we end up hungering for more of His presence, for more of Him? Attending church is truly a celebration of the One who always comes through for us. We are hosting a party in the name of the Lord! Come on over! It’s party time!
The apostle Paul summarizes this very well: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31 NIV)
Are we glorifying God with our church attendance? It’s really a question of whether we are filled with hope, faith and love. But let us not forget: “The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13b NIV)
What would we do if we encounter victims of a shipwreck? Be aware, there are many of those walking into the doors of our churches!