Don’t cut church out of your life

Published 8:46 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Across the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. Dennis Schmidt, Harland Evangelical Lutheran Church

So many activities — but stay focused on God!

Oh wow, what a world we have going now! Our attention and concerns are being pulled in so many different directions! One needs to stay focused on keeping the bills paid and the income stable, balancing the financial situation and investments. Yet how does one do that along with shoveling, blowing or plowing snow this time of the year? In the summer that carpet of green continually needs mowing and the shrubs and garden demand constant attention. Those with young families are always running the kids to one activity after another, along with the demands of providing for them, keeping them occupied and safe, monitoring homework assignments, etc. Plus the state, national and international affairs are brought to our attention through the split-second electronic media, newspapers and magazines. There are responsibilities at work, home, church, school, with friends and neighbors! And just try to keep up on favorite sports teams and individuals! Political whims and legal changes that affect all our lives clamor for our interest. The further we advance in years, increased health concerns crowd our schedules. Where will it all end?

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With so many pressures on us, we search for ways to cut down, for things we can do without. Hey, it’s sometimes just a matter of survival. You can only do just so much!

Looking through the list, what can we cut out? One item that comes up on many people’s radar is church. We don’t have to go to church! We could easily catch extra sleep time if we just sleep in on Sundays. Who is going to notice? So what if the kids are just too tired for Sunday school! Sometimes we drop off to sleep during the church service anyway! What is it going to hurt! Who will even notice? After all, we have a lot more important items on our agenda than socializing at church!

Such thoughts creep into our minds oh so quickly, don’t they? There are a lot of things to be done, and church is one that could be eliminated to ease the pressure. Maybe it would be easier on everyone if we just slacked off on the religious bit for a while.

Would it be easier on everyone? Probably. Would it ease up the hectic style of life? Yeah! Could it relieve some of the stress we feel? Perhaps for a while.

Two stories from the Bible come quickly to mind, however, to speak against such action. One of them is in Luke 12:16-21 which tells of a man who became very rich. He had spent his time working hard and becoming a success in life! Great! However, he did it at the expense of his relationship with God. He neglected his spiritual life, died in unbelief and went to hell. As the passage says, he was rich toward things but not rich toward God. (In the long run, do you think he was a success or failure?) He would realize forever in the terrors of hell that he had definitely chosen badly!

The second story that comes to mind is that of Jesus’ friends, Mary, and her sister, Martha. They had invited Jesus over for a meal. Martha was consumed with preparations for the meal while Mary set those aside in favor of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to what He said. When Martha objected, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Notice Jesus’ words carefully, “but only one thing is needed.” He does not say His words of life are an option or a choice to be taken or left alone. He says it is the one thing in all of life that is needed. Needed? Why? We find from the rest of the Bible that the words of God are necessary because they are the only ones that can show us the way of eternal salvation. This is the only message that can save us from the terrors of hell and lead us into everlasting joy in heaven.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) What must we believe? We must believe completely that there is only one true God, the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All other gods are idols (false gods or gods of people’s imaginations). We must also believe that God the Son came to this world and was born as a true human being — Jesus Christ. And that He grew up and took the guilt of the sins of everyone in the world upon Himself. Plus, that God the Father took out all His anger against all our sins on Jesus. Jesus then gave up His life into death as the final payment, having stated, “It is finished.” The work He had come to do, to save us from our just punishment of hell was accomplished. Jesus told us, however, that we must continue in this faith to the end of our lives.

As we join together for worship, week by week, we hear this needed message repeated again and again. This continually nourishes our faith and keeps it alive. Without that nourishment, our faith might starve to death!

So, for your sake and for the sake of your family, cut other things from your schedule, but not worship service! It can make the difference between an eternity with God rather than an eternity with Satan in hell.

Stay focused on God! He is top priority! Don’t get an A in life but an F for eternity!