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God Wants Me to Go to Church?

Maybe going to church is what God wants most of all for you.

What God Wants Most of All for You (6)

What’s up with that?
So maybe what God wants for you is that you should go to church?

That seems to be what a lot of churches want, right? They do just about everything they can think of to lure you in and make you feel right at home. They provide an enjoyable and non-threatening environment, make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be, and let you define the terms of your involvement with them – no pressure, no hype.

Or maybe a little hype.

More and more they don’t even look like churches, at least, not like you’ve imagined or experienced them. They look more like college campuses or even shopping malls. And the atmosphere during their services is more like a pop concert than what you might have expected. What’s up with that?

It all seems a little, well, phony? After all, you know some of these people. You know how they keep their homes, what they do at work, how they talk on the basketball court, their struggles, foibles, infidelities, and so forth. They haven’t shown much interest in you on your own turf, so to speak, so why would it matter so much to God that you should try to connect with them on theirs?

If what God wants for you most of all is that you should go to church, then it’s probably understandable why you continue to prefer the aspirations and diversions of your mind/god to the promises of the God of Scripture.

You’ll be unsurprised, I suspect, to learn that going to church is not what God wants most of all for you.

It is, however, part of His plan.

What is it with church?
Most people – even most church people – don’t have a very good idea about “church.” For many church people, church is what you make it. “Church” is just an idea, an idea associated with God and Jesus and people who believe in such things, that defines a place where they come together to do their Christian thing.

“Church” doesn’t mean anything until you add water and mix. And the people who make up a “church” are the water that makes it live.

“Church” can go in a lot of different directions, and take a variety of expressions. What makes a church a church is the people who attend there. In some cases, such folks have decided to avoid the word, “church”, altogether. They call their gatherings and the buildings that house them a “fellowship” or perhaps a “community.” In their mind “church” has two strikes against it as a referent (and why is that?), so they just don’t use it.

So does that mean their “fellowship” isn’t a “church”?

I suspect that if you pushed them on this, they’d give in and admit that, yes, well, our fellowship is a church, but we prefer to think of it as a fellowship.

As if how people should think about “church” and their “church” is a matter of personal preference.

You could head off to some place because you thought it was a church and it would end up feeling more like a fellowship, with all the action and focus on the horizontal, and everything done with a view to making folks feel like one of the group. And if you kept going there, your understanding of “church” would be permanently colored by the water you swim in, so to speak.

The word, “church”, comes from an ancient Greek word (the New Testament was written in Greek, you’ll recall) which means, “belonging to the Lord.” The “church” “belongs to the Lord.” It’s His “church.” If we want to know what “church” is all about – how it should be ordered, what it should do, and the like – we need, as far as we are able, to consult God, to learn what His ideas are for that which “belongs to Him.”

But I digress. This is not the place to explore God’s thinking about what belongs to Him, about the church. But since the church belongs to God – He designed, created, and is building it – it stands to reason that, if we’re going to discover what God wants most of all for us, “church” is going to be in the mix somewhere.

Not the mix
In the mix, but not the mix.

God wants you to find a church where you can enjoy that sense of belonging to Him, of knowing and enjoying and growing in and serving Him, with joy.

But going to church is not what God wants most of all for you.

After all, there’s a reason people go to church, and if they lose sight of that reason, no amount of going to church will do them much good. Going to church is not the end of life. It’s a means to the end, a way to know more completely what God wants most of all for you.

And no church is fulfilling its purpose as a community of people who belong to God that fails to help its members know and enjoy God’s perfect and abundant plan.

When churches act like going to church – and especially going to their church – is what God wants most of all for you, all they’ve done is substitute themselves and all their trappings for your mind/god. Or they’ve made themselves the sort of place your mind/god can use to help you satisfy your self-determined, shape-shifting purpose in life, thus acknowledging the ultimate authority of your mind/god and denying the ultimate authority of theirs.

God would be a fool if it were His highest purpose for you that you should go to church.

No, God has much, much more in mind for you. And what He has in His mind is guaranteed to blow yours.

I think sometimes churches actually make it harder for people to discover what God wants most of all for them. Why do you think this is so?

T. M. Moore
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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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