Christian Living

Church Obligations

It is rather strange how we sometimes view the work of the Lord. We speak and think of doing the work of the Lord as something we really do not want to do. We use words such as “have to,” “obligated,” and “required” to describe the functions we are performing for the Lord. I catch myself saying, “I have to go to church today” or “I have to go to class tonight.” Do we view having Bible classes, attending Bible studies, having gospel meetings, attending services, and going to congregational get-togethers (e.g. potlucks) as something we have to do?

Noticing the amount of people attending these various congregational functions shows that we have the mental attitude that these functions are “church obligations.” Attending the congregational function is not something that we have any desire to do, but we feel obligated to do it. There are many disappointing examples of this. Have you ever notice how Sunday morning Bible class has lower attendance than Sunday morning services? Maybe you have noticed that the attendance at Sunday night services is usually far less than the attendance at Sunday morning services. Even worse, the attendance dips even more for Wednesday night Bible class. It is obvious that, though we do not necessarily say it, we feel obligation and not desire to attend the assembling of the congregation.

Many feel “obligated” to only go on Sunday and Wednesday, or just Sunday, or just Sunday morning. But when a gospel meeting comes along, and the members are asked to attend services for two more hours than they usually would (Friday night and Saturday night), the attendance drops off by 50% or more. When Christians are asked to do something beyond attending on Sunday, many balk and are not interested in being with other Christians. What is the problem? Desire for the Lord is missing. It is very discouraging to see so many that we care about choose not meet with other Christians.

I am struck by the statement made by Luke in Acts 2:46. The passage says, “Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (NIV). What strikes me about this passage is that these first century Christians desired to meet together to praise God every day. These Christians were not looking for the bare minimums but were desiring the Lord. They did not feel that they “had to” assemble together but they wanted to assemble together.

Each of us need to examine our attitude toward serving the Lord. Do we feel like serving the Lord is something that we have to do, or is serving what we want to do? God did not lay before us what the minimum requirements were for serving Him. Instead the Lord told us to strive for Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, giving nothing less. We need to remember daily what needs to be placed most important in our lives. We say that God is first in our lives, but have our actions reflected it? Luke 14:15-33 teaches us that God is not interested in hearing our excuses, but wants us bearing a cross for Him. Let us stop thinking of serving God as an obligation and instead serve God because we love Him and we want to.

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