I won't take my church for granted.
The more often you do something, the more tempting it becomes to take that thing for granted.
It can happen with just about anything. Your family, a consistent paycheck, air conditioning. As some smart guy once said, “You never know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”
I think this has happened to me to a degree with my church. I’ve always gone to church. I’ve missed about two or three Sunday’s a year since birth. Now attending church is a part of my job. I’m required to be there. It’s a nonnegotiable part of my weekly rhythm.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my church and I love the church in general. I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. And I don’t know what else I would do or want to do on Sunday mornings.
But to be honest, sometimes I take it for granted.
That won’t happen again.
I think one of God’s purposes in this season could be to give us a greater appreciation of the gathered, local church. I know that’s one of the things He’s teaching me.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who ran an underground seminary in Nazi Germany, wrote, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer... Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
Like Bonhoeffer, we are being taught the privilege and grace of regularly gathering with other believers.
So I won’t take my church for granted anymore. I won’t go because I’m “supposed” to. I won’t go out of guilt or obligation or just to do my job.
I won’t take Sunday mornings for granted. I won’t drag myself out of bed, wishing I could have slept in. I won’t think of all the things I could be doing instead of meeting with my church.
I won’t take corporate worship for granted. I won’t look at my watch or think about lunch. I won’t second guess the song selections or daydream during the sermon.
I won’t take physical touch for granted. (Yes, I said physical touch. Affection has always been a part of church. Look up Romans 16:16.) I won’t neglect hand shakes, fist bumps, and high fives. I won’t even hesitate to give a few Christian side hugs!
I won’t take the building for granted. No, church is not a building, but most churches do meet inside of buildings. And I won’t wish mine was bigger, smaller, hotter, colder, or nicer. I won’t ignore the fact that we have a comfortable space where we can freely gather when many in the world don’t.
I won’t take baptism and communion for granted. How much sweeter these things will be when we gather again. I won’t miss a single chance to partake in these incredible moments of unity, remembrance, and celebration.
I won’t take the people for granted. I’m grateful we are still the church, gathered or not. I’m grateful that technology enables us to talk and interact online. But I won’t miss out on a chance to see my church people in person. I won’t ignore, complain, gripe, or avoid them. I won’t only talk to my favorites, stick with my clique, or stay in my circle. I won’t pass someone without smiling and speaking. I won’t miss an opportunity to check on someone, encourage them, or pray for them. I won’t pass by someone serving and not thank God for their role in our body. I won’t focus on myself and my worship experience and my needs to the neglect of others.
I won’t take community for granted. I won’t forget the stories of radical life change, healing, and restoration. I won’t fall down and try to lift myself back up. I won’t suffer without leaning on my church family. I won’t isolate myself and forget the unique bond of being joined in Christ.
To be honest with you one more time, I will probably take some of these things for granted from time to time. I will probably forget this season one day and in a moment of weakness, forget the privilege of the church gathered.
But when that moment comes, I will look back on these days. And I will remind myself of God’s grace in God’s people gathered in God’s name. What a unique gift. What grace.