How would you feel if you planned a huge event for someone and not many people showed up? What if that person was an amazing person? What if that person had saved countless lives? What if that person had sacrificed so much for all the people who had been invited? How would you feel if most people decided it wasn’t really worth it to show up and honor this person?
What about if this person died and no one showed up for the funeral? This person had dedicated their life to serving others, but none of those people bothered to clear their schedules and come and pay their respects. How would you feel? Annoyed? Frustrated? Angry?
What if that person was your child? What if no one came, even though your child had stepped in and died in their place? What if, after literally taking their place in death, that person didn’t even bother to show up and honor what your child had done?
How must God the Father feel on Sundays, when so many neglect to worship Him? I find myself irritated and discouraged when people don’t make Him a priority. When they’d rather do something else instead of remember that His Son died for them. How must He feel? His Son was murdered for these people. His Son suffered so much physical and mental anguish just to be able to save these…ungrateful people. How much must it hurt God to see His children forsake Him?
The church, God’s people, are my people. They are my tribe. They are my family. They are my source of strength and encouragement. They are, to quote Michael Whitworth, my community. And when they don’t show up for worship…I feel like they didn’t show up for me! They aren’t there to cheer me in on my Christian race. They aren’t there to hoot and holler and pump me up in my fight against Satan. Instead, I’m left alone in the ring. I’m alone on the track. And it is so, so easy to want to quit when it feels no one’s there.
Fortunately, God will never leave me or forsake me, and so I will never forsake Him, even if everyone else does. But remember, Christian, you are your brother’s keeper. We are responsible to our brothers and sisters. We must encourage them. We must strengthen them. And we can’t do that if we won’t make God a priority. If we won’t make God THE priority.
I am so blessed to have so many Christians around me on a regular basis who consistently encourage me to do and be better. But, I also know of many others who regularly choose to neglect our Lord. If you happen to be one of those who skips or chooses other things, know this: we miss you. And we need you. You may not think anyone notices or cares, but we do. You may not think your space in that pew means much to anyone, but it does. There’s solidarity in numbers. And when your number isn’t there, we are sad. And lonely. And hurting.
But likely not as much as God.
I would like to encourage you to make God the priority of your life. This week, choose to be at Wednesday evening Bible study. Choose to be at Bible study Sunday morning. Choose to encourage your brothers and sisters whenever you can. Yes, there will be times when you just can’t make it to some of the extras, but worship isn’t an extra. Worship is the focus of our lives. Worship is our hearts crying out in praise and adoration to the One who is the center of our lives.