[This article is part of the Can I Call Myself A Christian? series]
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
– Hebrews 10:25
A Christian may opt to not go to church but that would be unhealthy and ugly for him. 1 Corinthian 1:27 says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
Imagine that you are an eye. No matter how beautiful your shape is or how mesmerizing your color is, if you are not connected to the body, alone perhaps on the floor, you will look creepy. You will be of no use and eventually die a natural death.
This goes the same to a Christian. No matter how seemingly strong a faith of a Christian is, if he is not connected to the body, which is the church, alone perhaps on his own, he will look isolated. He will be of no use and eventually dry up (or worse, die) spiritually.
Church, for which Christ is the head (Colossians 1:18), is an important part of our lives. 1 Corinthians 12:21-27 says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” We need each other. We need to have fellowship and accountability with one another (Galatians 6:2, 1 Corinthian 12:26).
There is life found from praying together. There is truth found in counseling and encouraging each other. There is love found in the church because it is not a building we go to or a ceremony we attend to; it is a family of believers.
Christians who have asked the question, “Can I be a Christian but not go to church?”, may have been inconsistent in coming to church, hurt by a church member/leader or just generally not feeling like he should do so.
Jesus highly values the church. Written in Luke 4:16, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” He even refers to the church as His bride (Ephesians 5:24).
Therefore, not giving importance to the church by actively participating in or contributing to it is like saying, “Jesus, I love you but I do not (need to) love what you love.”
Some Christians do not value the church because they view it based on what they can get out of it rather than thinking about what they can do to contribute to it. Instead of humbly sharing their gifts, talents, abilities and testimonies to others (1 Peter 4:10), they would say: “But I am too busy”, “I need to isolate myself for the mean time”, “The preaching makes me sleepy”, “The music is not that reviving” or “They are just a bunch of hypocrites.”
Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” while Philippians 2:3 says, “…in humility value others above yourselves.”
Some Christians profess they follow Jesus but do not want to be accountable to anyone in the church. They comfortably come and go when they want to. Some even give the excuse, “Well, God does not mind if I do not go to church. He unconditionally loves me anyway.”
God, in Hebrews 10:25, encourages us to “not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.” God is telling us to not be like those who habitually resist fellowship, relationships and accountability.
And then He continues with, “but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” God is telling us to encourage others in preparation of Jesus’ return.
We cannot encourage others if there is nobody we would like to consistently meet and care for to begin with. How can we apply The Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-31) if there is nobody around that we would like to pour our lives into?
If a professing believer of Jesus does not have a heart/conviction to contribute his God-given time, talent and treasures to the church, we would have every reason to doubt the sincerity of his faith.
Yes, going to church does not make anybody a Christian. As mentioned in the earlier chapters, it is only through Jesus Christ that we are saved (John 3:16, John 14:6).
However, if you are a Christian, you automatically become a part of God’s church family. Therefore, faithfully going to church and actively contributing to it are marks of a true believer of Jesus.
Are you a professing Christian who find coming to church dragging or unimportant? Have you neglected meeting and assembling together with fellow believers? Have you neglected pouring out your life to other people? Do you desire to contribute to a church? Have you been picky and condemning of the things that are wrong in your church? Do you desire to have the love and commitment that Jesus has for the church?
If you have answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, I would like to encourage you with this: Christians are to come to church because it is what Christ has called them to do and who Christ has made them to be – members of His body. When a Christian is in union with other believers, he is also in union with Christ.
Just as Jesus would go to church to serve and love it, professing believers of Jesus should do the same.