Every day I get on our website either to make sure it is up and running or to add some new content. Every day I see the special category block that says events. Usually we just run information about the special events like Gospel meetings or new Bible classes. We want folks to know about the different Bible studies that are available. We don’t put anything up about our regular events like ongoing Bible classes or regularly scheduled assemblies, maybe we should.
I think about some of the other special events we have had over the past few years. We have had Fall Focuses with intense study on one topic and multiple opportunities to grow. We have had Vacation Bible Schools focusing on evidences for our faith. We have had singings and prayer services. We have had special evangelistic efforts.
Seeing this category on our website, thinking about all that we have done, and even thinking just about the website itself makes me stop and ask a question. Why? Why have we done all these things? Why do we have these special events?
I don’t know what is on everybody else’s mind, but I have to make a confession. I don’t think I’ve had my head on straight about any of these things. When I get gut-wrenchingly honest with myself, I have to say that the reason I’ve suggested and promoted any of these events has basically been because we are a church and churches are supposed to do things. These all seemed like scriptural things to do. They all seemed like cool things to do. Let’s try it. Once they are scheduled, I’ve then worked on trying to get everyone else to see how neat they are so they’ll participate.
The fact is, if the only reason we are doing something is because it is a scriptural and neat thing to try, then we might as well can it. I mean that all the way from our intense Fall Focuses to our ordinary run of the mill classes and assemblies. If we are only doing things because churches do things, then we are only “playing church” and we ought to just close up our doors and go some place else.
God didn’t establish local churches just so we could try neat things. God established local churches because we are at war. We are fighting a battle we are going to lose if we don’t stay connected to God. Ephesians 6:10-13 says we are fighting against rulers, authorities, spiritual forces of evil, and cosmic powers of darkness. We are fighting against Satan himself. Let’s face it, we can’t win that war. But God can. In fact, God has. The only way we can win is if we are constantly connected to God.
I hope you caught that. We can’t win this war just by going to a neat church that does cool stuff. We can’t win this war just because we are members at the right church that only does scriptural stuff. We can only win this battle when we are standing in the Lord’s might. We can only win this battle when we are constantly connected to God.
Sadly, too often we are standing in our own strength and “going to church” sometimes as part of establishing our own righteousness. Then we wonder why we keep getting beat by Satan every day as we fall prey to lying, gossiping, pride, arrogance, lusting, cheating, jealousy, and so many other things. We wonder why the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control elude us so often.
Maybe everyone else has been getting this. Perhaps I’m the only one with this problem. If so, then let this be my confessional. If not, then let us regroup and recognize that God established the Franklin Church of Christ as a battalion of His army. He has placed us together so we can gain strength from Him through our connection to each other. We do things to help us put on the armor, fight the battle, and honor God for His victories. We are not here to check off our church stuff. We are here to lift up God’s banner, walk into the fray, defeat our enemy, and praise our King for His benevolence to us.
That must be why we do what we do. That must be why we assemble every week. That must be why we have our Bible classes. That must be why we have our special studies. That must be why we have our special series. Only then will they actually help us win the battle.
Walk into a doctor’s office and look around. Why is everyone there? Because they’re sick and they need a physician to get better. Walk into a Toastmasters club and look around you. Why is everyone there? Because they want to get better at speaking in front of people and they need help. Walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and look around you? Why is everyone there? Because they are struggling with alcohol and they need help overcoming.
Here is what is interesting about the above organizations. No one tries to hide their sickness in a doctor’s office. No one tries to hide their fear of public speaking in Toastmasters. No one tries to hide their struggles in an A.A. meeting. Why? Because in these settings they all know everyone is there for the same reason and they are all too desperate for help to hide it.
Now, walk into a church’s assembly and look around you? Why is everyone there? The reality is everyone is there because they are all sinners and need a Savior (Romans 3:23-24). They are all there because they’ve learned without God they can’t make it and they need Him to help them win the victory over sin in their lives (Romans 7:14-25).
This is where we start having trouble. Even though that is where every single one of us is. When we come into a church’s assembly, we often perceive something different. Instead of seeing a group of people who are struggling with sin and have gathered to get some help, most of us see ourselves as struggling with sin but see everyone else as really good people who are just coming together because they are so spiritual. When we’re at a doctor’s office, we don’t care if everyone knows we’re sick, but when we’re “at church” we try to cover up any spiritual sickness we have going on. We don’t want others to see. We’re afraid they’ll look down on us.
Sadly, some Christians are like that. Some are like Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50 who actually don’t realize how sick they are. If asked why they are there, they really might say, “Because I’m so spiritual,” while in their mind adding, “Too bad everyone is not as spiritual as I am.” Having met too many of these Christians, many of the rest of us put a lid on our real struggles and try to fight them alone until they become too big to hide. Sadly, in those situations some folks just give up the spiritual fight entirely.
In this situation, the ones who should really be ashamed are not the ones who have continued struggles. Rather, the ones who should be ashamed are the ones who think they’ve got their lives under control on their own and aren’t being honest about how sinful they really are, how much they need a Savior, and how humble they really ought to be as they’re dealing with people whose sins are different. Remember, in the parable of the prodigal son, it wasn’t the prodigal son who was the bad guy. It was the older brother who was too good to go in and celebrate with the returning prodigal and the father.
Please, take a good long look at yourself. Why are you here?