We live in a media driven society. At any given moment any of us could be watching TV, reading e-mails on the computer, talking on our cell phones, and listening to a CD in the background. We watch TV shows that have split screen news broadcasts with banners scrolling across the bottom of the screen. When we drive down the road we see billboards, electronic signs, ads on the sides of buses, and people dressed up in costumes holding signs. We have access to software to print dazzling flyers and brochures that rival print shops. We are blitzed by sights and sounds, and sometimes I get numb from it all. When is it just too much?
That is why this is so interesting. I saw a sign at a local church the other day that really, really, caught my attention. Why? It wasn’t anything razzle dazzle about it. Just a plain Jane sign, white background, black letters. Nothing flashing, no one juggling or doing flips, not a laser light show in sight. But it caught my attention none the less. Plain, simple. BOLD. That much was for sure, it was bold. And true. And it cut me to the bone.
What did it say? I am glad you asked. On the sign in front of this church was the following statement, “If your relationship with God won’t get you to church how in the world do you expect it to get you to heaven?” Wow. Did that hit you as hard as it hit me? That is a powerful statement. Why? Is my relationship with God on shaky ground? Is my faithfulness in church attendance wavering? No, not at all. But it did make me think about what is going on around me? And probably you.
I don’t know about where you’re from, I can only talk about the place I live. Traffic here is a nightmare 6 days a week. People going and coming from work, shopping, buying, selling; going from before sunrise to way past dark. Going, going, going. Running late, on schedule, early. Got to go to school, got to go to work, got to go shopping. Got to cut the yard. Got to wash the cars. Got to paint the house. Got to cook. Got to clean. We make time for everything, from watching TV to playing sports. We are a very busy bunch of people.
6 days a week, isn’t there 7? Sure, and Sunday is the one day of the week that is different than the rest. Sometimes on a Sunday morning I think I could drive blindfolded to church and not run the risk of hitting anyone. Streets are quiet with only a hint of traffic. Sure, it picks up later in the day, but not the mornings. Why? We have plenty of churches here in town and most of them have services about the same time in the mornings. Why are people not hustling and bustling to their places of worship like they do the other 6 days of the week to all of the other places? Because they are not going.
How is the attendance at your congregation? Is your parking lot full and overflowing? Do you have to circle the parking lot like a vulture looking for food to find a spot to park like you do at the mall on a Friday night? Is the auditorium full with standing room only like a state finals basketball game at the local gym? Is your Bible school attendance always near 100% like schools because people can’t afford to miss? Does your elders constantly have to stand up and announce to slow down on the contribution giving because they are way over budget and they don’t know what they can do with extra money? I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any of this where I live. Why? I think it is because we live in a society today that doesn’t have a relationship with God. I hate to admit it, but I think it is true. We live in a society where people think that there relationship with God is just fine the way it is and that He is happy with us and everything is just hunky dory. Just live a good life, be a good citizen, pay your bills, do a good deed every now and then, and everything is cool. Maybe even sing the words to “God bless America” for good measure.
You know what, that just doesn’t cut it. Not at all. God created the church for us. Not for Him. God knew we needed the church. We need to meet together. We need the fellowship. We need the opportunity to worship Him as a family. He knew we needed an accountability group. He knew we needed mentors. He knew we needed role models. He knew we needed a support group. He knew we needed a networking group. We need church. Should I say it again? WE NEED CHURCH. And if our relationship with God won’t get us to church how in the world can we expect it to get us to heaven? How???
Time to wake up people. No excuses. No “reasons.” I hear them all of the time, from people that I am close to. “I have to work.” “I have to go out of town.” “I have to get some rest; it is the only day I can get some real sleep.” “I don’t get along with the people at church.” “I don’t fit in.” “I just don’t get anything out of the service.” Shall I go on? How many have you heard? And these are from people within the church!!! What about all of the others out there?
We need to be about building relationships with God. We need to be about building relationships at church. We need to be about building up the church; after all, didn’t Jesus buy it with His own blood? We need to get focused, get ready, and get out. We need to get out and be about the work of the kingdom. There are countless numbers of people that we see everyday that do not have a relationship with God. And you know what? When we do, the churches are going to be full. There really won’t be a place to park. There really will be perfect attendance. There really will be too much money in the contribution plates. And the Devil will be shaking in his boots because he will realize that the game is on and that his opponents are fighting him, and not against ourselves.
So, when you plan your week, plan your activities, plan your schedules, plan your whatever it is that you are planning, put God, and church, at the center of it all. If it messes up your plans, your plans are messed up. If it messes up your schedule, then your schedule is messed up.
This might be your wake-up call, but it might be the best thing you have done in quite a while. I will end using the words of another sign I saw at another church, “Work for God. Daily bonuses. Retirement benefits out of this world!”
Working with you in the kingdom,