If you go to church on a weekly basis, why do you? In a related article (121) we asked about those who do not attend church regularly. So, it is time now to ask about those who do. Does God accept church attendance on a regular basis just because it is regular?
It is clear from the Bible that God not only expects those who call themselves Christians to attend church on a very regular basis, He insists upon it and metes out disciplinary judgment upon those who rebel. But, is He satisfied with regular attendance because it is regular?
And, as I always am, I want to be unambiguously clear here: He might be.
Now, what does that mean? To answer, let me refer you again to the book of Hebrews where the instruction about going to church on a regular basis is given. In chapter four of that book, verse 12, we are told that the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Two things are important here. First, the Word of God is not a lifeless book. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word of God, Who was God in the flesh, Who created all things that exist. Because the author of Hebrews says that the Word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts, he is referring not to the written Word (the Bible), but the Word who is aware (Jesus).
The second thing that is important is that the statement introduces the issue of motivation for behavior. God has never been satisfied with behavior that is dishonest; that is, behavior that does not accurately reflect the truth of the heart's attitude. This is a critical issue because men have little problem faking obedience by external conformity to regulations. But, God is not impressed with such fakery.
This means that God might be satisfied with church attendance that is regular. The deciding issue is why it is regular. If I attend church regularly because it is a part of my job as a paid preacher, God is fairly angry with me. He has demanded that I not do my tasks as a preacher for monetary gain. So, if I do what I do because others are paying me to do it, I have not satisfied God's requirement in the area of motive. By the same token, if anyone attends church because he wants to escape the penalties God assesses for non-attendance, he might be in fairly serious trouble with God.
Why? Because God's Word does not tell us to attend church to escape God's wrath. Instead, it tells us to attend church so that we can both encourage others in their faithfulness to Him, and be encouraged by others in our faithfulness to Him. So, if we attend church on a regular basis just because we are told to be there, and we do not encourage others to live for Jesus while we are there, nor do we take encouragement from others to live for Jesus while we are there, God knows our hearts. He is not satisfied with our performance of His command if our heart is not in it.
So, you can see why the answer is not a clear yes or no. All depends, with God, on the motive. What is yours?