Why Attend Church?
Today, my devotional reading is from 2 Kings 4. In the story, a Shunammite woman was barren and the prophet Elisha interceded with God for her. A year later, she bore a son but while still a young child, he died.
One very interesting phrase from the story stuck in my mind. The woman spoke to her husband about going to visit Elisha, the man of God. Since the husband was not aware that their son had died, he asked his wife, “Why go to him today? It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.” To which his wife replied, “It’s all right.” (See 2 Kings 4:22,23.)
The husband’s comments sound amazingly similar to contemporary questions of WHY anyone would attend church if it was not for some special circumstance?
It occurred to me that there are some general reasons why people attend church:
- Special Holidays & Events. That was evidently the husband’s reasoning (“It’s not the New Moon.”) Today, we often see dramatic increases in attendance at church on both Easter & Christmas. Some people only attend on those days – and for weddings and funerals.
- Weekly Scheduled Services. The husband also referred to the “Sabbath” as a logical reason for visiting the man of God. Until around the 1950’s, church attendance was recognized in the USA (and many other countries) as a normal responsibility. But in modern times, there does not seem to be such a requirement. Even those who DO attend the weekly services still may not be there for true worship.
- Times of Great Need. The mother in our story needed the man of God – not for a funeral – but for new life! She reported (both ti her husband and Elisha’s servant), “It is all right.” But Elisha recognized that she was in “bitter distress.” When Elisha went to the child and prayed, the Lord brought new life to the child (see v.35). It is not uncommon that those who are in great need will call upon God. In any given congregation, a large portion are likely experiencing something that they consider “bitter distress.”
- Time of Celebration. The final reason for church attendance seems to be the best. When we compare the picture of the mother holding Elisha’s feet in distress (verse 27) to her celebration at his feet (verse 37), we can better understand that true worship is the celebration of the great and wonderful works of God.
So, will you be attending church today (or soon)? WHY?