“The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.”
Truer words have never been spoken. In a recent article from The Gospel Coalition, pastor and writer Kevin DeYoung examined a group of Christians he believes are contributing to the decline of faith in modern culture: The Semi-Churched. These are Christians who treat church attendance with dangerous negligence, and have not establish a regular pattern of worship every Sunday. DeYoung believes that gathering together before God is one of the main pillars of Christianity, and failing to do so runs the risk of eroding an individual’s faith. He then poses a number of important questions to his readers,
1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family?
“You know how you wake up in the morning and think “maybe I’ll go on a run today” or “maybe I’ll make french toast this morning”? That’s not what church attendance should be like. It shouldn’t be an “if the mood feels right” proposition. I will always be thankful that my parents treated church attendance (morning and evening) as an immovable pattern. It wasn’t up for discussion. It wasn’t based on extenuating circumstances. It was never a maybe. We went to church. That’s what we did. That made the decision every Sunday a simple one, because their was no real decision. Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up. Giving your family the same kind of habit is a gift they won’t appreciate now, but will usually thank you for later.”
It’s true what he says, a lot of Christians have started to view Church attendance as something of a chore. Even I have to admit that there have been Sundays when I just rolled over in bed and pretended that I overslept. What happed to us? When did we lose our joy? Seeing as it’s December and Christmas is only a few days away, I can’t help but draw parallels between DeYoung’s observations and the birth of Christ.
Crosswalk Editor, Debbie Holloway, recently wrote on why joy is such an integral part of the Advent celebration. Her statements don’t just reveal much about the birth of Christ, but also what modern Christians should aspire to,
“I imagine the Jews of Jesus’ day longed for the spring of the Lord’s favor. No word from the Lord had come for a long time. Jews were living under a powerful, pagan Roman government. While the people were not necessarily miserable or oppressed, their joy perhaps had worn a little thin. They no doubt pined for something better.
Imagine, next, the Shepherds who were visited by Angels on the night of Christ’s birth. The hum-drum of their evening duties, perhaps even their sleep, was interrupted in a big way. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were terrified.
But the terror was short lived, of course. What terror can stand against such amazing, incredible, joy?”
Church is meant to be a place where Christians gather in joy. It is a place to break bread and create fellowship, not grumble in discontent. Don’t let your passion for Christ depart with Christmas, remember that we are the recipients of His grace, and that is a gift that lasts for all time.
**Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com