Let’s start with a question. Okay, two. First, did you go to Church today? Why, or why not? There are plenty of motivations, reasons, and excuses people use for either choice. Let’s take a look at why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Consider one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 4:3-8. “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Jesus goes on to explain that for some people tribulation, persecution, cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things cause them to fall away. If a person doesn’t have a good root system, that is what will happen. Satan is always ready with our Achilles heel to lure us from God. So how do we keep that from happening?
Think back to the questions at the beginning. Why did or didn’t you go to Church? There are lots of good reasons, like to worship God, to build up our fellow Christians, and because we need to be spiritually fed. But there are less good reasons too. Some religious organizations use things like coffee and doughnuts, t-shirts, or entertainment to draw people in. These things aren’t inherently wrong. The early Church ate together, and trips or movies can bring us closer to each other. But when these are what attract people to come, it can be a problem. What would happen to the crowds if all these were stripped away and all that was left was simple worship?
I realize that Jesus did feed people who followed Him as He taught. In fact, in John 6:26, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.’” Jesus was aware of people’s motivations, and there were people who followed even Him who did so because He fed them. Still, He fed people on at least two occasions afterward.
Where does that leave us? If people come for any reason to a Church service, then they still have the opportunity to hear truth taught. That’s a good thing. We must be sure, though, that we don’t focus on things besides pleasing God. It’s easy to be swept up in the tide of something popular and ride it as long as it’s easy. When things get tough, though, we can jump ship to the next easy thing. With ourselves, with visitors who aren’t yet Christians, and with new believers, we must continue to build roots.
God doesn’t want followers of fads. He calls us to be ready to take up our crosses, endure persecution, and never turn our backs on Him. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life during the calm times, but we have to be watching for when things get rocky. Because they will. And that’s the test of our faith. So let’s get our ground ready to receive the Word. Put in roots deeper than Satan can pull out. And if you get warm fuzzy feelings from worship services, just make sure there’s substance at the core.