In answering why you should go to church, regularly, weekly, most responses seem to focus on how doing so will help you. There was an online discussion this week around an article arguing you should go to church weekly because if you don’t, you’re missing out on using your spiritual gifts; you’re missing out on spiritual gifts meant for you; you’re missing out on the sweetest fellowship this side of heaven… The article was all about me, me, me…

But, what if it is not primarily about “me“?!

There is a (particularly Protestant) perspective that I am saved by accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour – and then church becomes a sort of spiritual support group. Of course, if I find reading my Bible at home more supportive than going to church on Sunday, then the question of why bother going to church becomes pretty loud, doesn’t it? And if you are of the once-saved-always-saved flavour, the question becomes deafening. [Let’s not even go further along the spectrum to the predestined to be saved end].

Going to church, in this approach, is the spiritual equivalent to going to the gym. But, there is a completely different paradigm which turns all this on its head.

What if it is not about me? What if it’s not about how turning up to worship will help me? I just can’t imagine, for example, that an All Black would say the reason he turns up to play the game is that it keeps him fit! It’s about the game – not about the player. And the game doesn’t happen if the player doesn’t turn up.

What if it’s not, “I become a Christian by myself alone (to save my soul alone from hell fire) and then I join the church as a sort of AA-meeting support club”? What if it is actually, “I become a Christian by joining the church”? “I am a Christian because I am a member of the church.”

What if it’s: God acts in the world and the universe, and the church is the sacrament, the outward visible sign, of that action? We, the church, God’s priestly people, gathered and dispersed (like breathing in and out), praise God on behalf of all creation, pray for all creation, act as God’s hands, and feet, and mouth for the sake of all. We are the Body of Christ. To be a Christian means to be part of the Body of Christ. You cannot claim to be a rugby player if you do not play rugby.

And the irony of it is: as we abandon the focus on ME, then we are saved.

Original cartoon by Dave Walker

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