We had paused our Sunday afternoon stroll around the block to chat with one of my favorite neighbors. I glanced at my watch and was surprised by how much time had passed. I explained to her that we needed to head home for my then 12-year-old to get ready for the Sunday night activities at church.
My neighbor made a joke about how when the church doors are open the preacher’s kids have always got to go to church. I laughed with her but silently wondered if I had ever made my kids feel that going to church is something to be done out of obligation.
As we walked back to our house my son said, “Mom, I don’t got to go to church—I get to go!” I smiled as his words were exactly what I wanted to hear because I knew that was the right attitude.
But to be honest I can learn from my son’s attitude because I don’t always treat church as something I get to do.
I love my church family and once I get to church I am glad I attended. But often when I am getting my family ready for church, that seems to be the time when things fall apart the most. Sometimes, I am ashamed to say, my attitude is more of a got-to than a get-to towards church attendance.
Below are 3 things we can do to keep our hearts rejoicing in the privilege of going to the house of the Lord as David expressed in his Psalm of ascent:
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
· Psalm 122:1 ·
1 • Serve
Too often we become so familiar going to church that we forget it is a privilege. When my husband and I first met, we would be so excited about every opportunity we had to see one another. I would anticipate a dinner out and would think about what outfit I would wear and even count down the days in my head until the date. Twenty years and three children later, while I still look forward to alone time with my husband, I often take for granted the opportunity to spend time with him. As we go through our daily routines of life, I often find myself taking our relationship for granted because I have grown familiar with his presence.
Likewise, when we work church into the routine of our lives as an activity for Sunday morning or as a program for our children, we can quickly become familiar with the routine of going to church. Our attendance can become something we mark off our to-do list and we lose sight of the true purpose and privilege of church.
We can counter this familiarity by coming up with a new way to use our spiritual gifts to serve the body of Christ. Being a part of the body of Christ is exciting when we are engaged and using our gifts to fulfill the mission of God. Serving in a new way can rekindle in our hearts the privilege of being part of a church.
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another
as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
· 1 Peter 4:10 ·
2 • Determine to Love the Church
We know that a church is not the building but the people—people united together to whom Scripture refers as the bride of Christ—His bride whom he loves, gave himself for, and is returning for soon.
While the standard of behavior among believers should be different than the world’s, we have to remember that not one church member (including ourselves) is perfect. Yet often we have such high standards for our fellow church members and become easily hurt, disappointed, or even label them as hypocrites when they fall short of our expectations.
Rather than expecting perfection, we should follow the example of Christ and focus our hearts on learning to love the bride of Christ in her imperfect state.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church
and gave Himself up for her.
· Ephesians 5:25 ·
3 • Be Thankful
Chances are we haven’t had to worry about walking to a secret church to meet in order to hide from government officials to worship Christ or about crossing rocky terrain for miles with children in tow to attend church. Now don’t get me wrong—there are some mornings that I feel like I have done this by the time I pull into the church parking lot. But when we think about what believers in other countries risk or go through to attend church, our hard time getting to church most likely pales in comparison.
We take for granted the opportunity we are given to easily access worship. Or maybe we see church as another activity to attend rather than what it truly is: an opportunity to worship God with other believers.
When we take the time to thank God for the chance to attend a worship service with other believers, our hearts change to a get-to go to church attitude.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
· Psalm 100:4 ·
When we serve, love, and express gratitude toward our church, we will shift our attitudes to rejoice in the opportunity we are given to worship God with others.
in the Quiver