In our consideration of the issue of church attendance, we have seen that it is not nearly the optional behavior that most folks think it is. (120) Those who think they can worship God on the golf course, or in the bass boat, or while they work--if those activities are keeping them out of church--are going to wake up one day to the truth.
And what is that?
Simply that the worship of God is not open to our particular preferences. Jesus once said: "...the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him." (John 4:23). Interestingly (read it for yourself, it's in the Bible) Jesus said this to a woman whose attitude was the same as those today who think that worship is something on which they decide the boundaries.
In that statement Jesus made three particular points. First, He made a distinction between true worshipers and those whose worship is a religious sham designed only to appease an uneasy conscience. Second, He made the declaration that there is such a thing as worship in the spirit as opposed to worship that is nothing more than an external conformity to religious tradition. Third, He made it clear that worship is to be only in the truth as opposed to worship that is conjured up by people who want to do what they want to do and not be bothered by the prescriptions upon worship that come from the Word of God.
I want to comment on these three things a bit more at length. In our relativistic culture of multi-religious culturalism, most people think that God is pleased if people simply worship--whether in church, on the golf course, on the lake, or on the tractor. But, there have always been those who realize that God can only be pleased by the kind of worship that He has explained as legitimate in His Word. In other words, only the most obtuse think that God has to be happy with whatever bones they toss Him in terms of religious worship. God doesn't accept worship that is not true.
That brings up the issue of worship in truth. True worshipers worship in truth. This means that they do not make the rules according to their whims and fancies. Instead, they look into God's Word to see what pleases Him. For example, in the Old Testament God told His chosen people that when they brought an animal sacrifice to His altar, it had to be without defect or blemish. Now, granted, these types of animals were the most valuable. It was much less of a sacrifice to offer a blind, or lame, or otherwise broken-down, animal. And, some argued that God didn't care how they worshiped as long as they did. But, His hot anger was kindled against them and the tragic history of the Jews is an example of what happens to people who try to make their own rules when they are dealing with God.
And, that brings us to worship in spirit. This means that it is real, genuine, uncoerced, love-motivated, freely given, worship of God Most High. So, it won't do you any good to go to church because you must. You should only go if you love Him.