In 2006, there was said to be 216 different denominations in American and Canada (2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches). It’s sad to think about how much religious division and confusion there is in our world. But it gets worse. Not only are people surrounded by confusing choices in religion, people often further divide themselves from God by serving other commons things in this life. Instead of going to a church that serves Christ, people “worship” a variety of other things. They end up attending the church of _____________. This blank spot could be filled in by a variety of answers.
The Church of Sports. When is the last time you let your own sports practice or game take first place over worship or Bible study? Or what about your child’s game? Or what about skipping church to watch the Super Bowl or Bible class to watch the World Series? What does this say about our priorities when we skip out on worship because of sports? What does this tell other about what we find most important? What message does this send to our children when we allow them to miss worship because of sports? Far too many people are allowing their lives to be dictated by the church of sports.
The Church of Work. We live in a society that is fast paced and busy. Everyone has things to do and places to go. Everyone’s busy. It’s become one of the most used and most common excuses for people to skip out on the most essential priorities of life. When is the last time we allowed our employer to schedule us during times of worship and Bible study? Have we even requested to the employer that we not work on those times? Do we choose to skip out on church functions because we have “too much work to do”? Many people allow the church of work to become more important than the church of our Lord.
The Church of Self. I’m too tired. I need more sleep. I’ve had a bad day. I’m just not in the right mindset. I just don’t feel like going. I don’t get much out of worship. Do any of these sound familiar? All of these are selfish excuses we tell ourselves, and sometimes others, in order to skip out on worship. None of them are valid, especially when used regularly. Unfortunately, people end up going to the church of self first and God takes the back seat.
This blank could be filled with a variety of other answers. The church of Friends. The church of School. The church of Family. The church of Hobbies. We all know our excuses. We all know what we let get in the way at times. The trick is figuring out how to get past them.
Paul gives us the answer with this well-known statement, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). See, if I’m a Christian then I am, in a sense, dead. The old me is no longer alive. That person who was more focused on sports, work, myself, friends, school, and so many other things is no longer living. Obviously, it makes no sense to let my old zombie self come back to take over. I must put that person to “death” every day and choose to let Christ reign in me (Luke 9:23).
We have a lot to work on when it comes to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). Let’s not give up. Let’s stop attending those churches which have no eternal benefit. Let’s rededicate ourselves to the church that Christ died for (Ephesians 5:25).