Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Taking attendance?

Do you remember your school days? Calling roll...it's one of the most consistent aspects of being an elementary school child. Day after day, waiting for the teacher to call out my name so I could say one word.


I also remember one Sunday morning when I was in Junior High (now known as Middle) School. I had registered for a chess tournament, with five rounds. That Sunday, I figured I could beat my opponent in short order and get to church, no problem. Only I didn't. And when I failed to put the game away and realized I was not going to make church, my eyes started to well up. I hated to miss church, and I got so distraught that my chess game fell apart. I did not win that tournament.

Taking attendance. Does God take attendance? Is there some sort of scorecard tracking our Sundays?

I don't object to the concept of a deity, but I'm baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.
- Amy Farrah Fowler, The Big Bang Theory 

Now, while Amy and I are miles apart in our understanding of God, in my opinion the character makes a good point here. When I was at that chess tournament, there was a part of me that thought of God sitting up there like my elementary school teacher. Calling out my name, but getting only silence. No answer from Donnie, he's playing hooky.

So if God is not taking attendance, does that mean church and corporate worship are unimportant. Far from it!

The Scriptures are very clear that the Christian life is not meant to be a solo endeavor. Jesus came to call a people to himself, not a collection of individuals. Jesus told Peter that he would build his church upon the rock of Peter's declaration. Peter in turn wrote that followers of Jesus are "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession." The writer of Hebrews wrote that God's people should stir one another to love and good deeds and not give up the habit of meeting together. Habit - something that happens only by repetition. And the church - not individuals, but the church - is called the body of Christ.

The fact is that our relationship with God is corporate, not just individual. We need each other. when we come together to worship, several important things happen. We give God glory through our praise. We encourage one another to stand strong. We hear words of wisdom from leaders and from each other. We participate in the Lord's Supper, remember Christ's death through the bread and wine as he commanded.

In short, we love God and love each other at the same time. And then we go out into the world to express that love and build his kingdom.

If you are a follower of Jesus, it is your lifeblood. It is as if you breathe in by gathering to worship, and breathe out by scattering to share his love. Breathe in, breathe out. Gather, scatter.

So no, Amy, I don't think there's any attendance book. That's not the point. But there is a world that needs the Gospel, and there is a soul inside me that needs to be fed.

For that, I need the body of Christ.

See you Sunday.

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