“You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”
We hear this a lot in today’s world, don’t we?
There is a degree of truth in the phrase. A Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ as their divine rescuer from sin and death, and faith in Jesus Christ is worked by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, and so therefore, it is true that it is possible for someone to be a Christian with only a Bible.
The Christian needs church because we are made to worship. In fact, everyone worships something.
Writer, novelist, and essayist David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), who himself was not a Christian, offers some incredibly insightful commentary into human nature and experience. He says:
“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship… (unless you worship some kind of God) pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough…. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.
Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”
Based on these comments, if we are not consciously setting our hearts, souls, and minds on worshiping God, we will inevitably fall into the destructive pattern of worshiping something else that will “eat you alive.” Or, to perhaps put it a little differently, instead of being an influence of God’s light on the world around us, we will be more and more influenced by the world’s way of thinking and doing life. This is probably a big reason why God actually commanded his Old Testament people to worship him on a weekly basis (“Remember the Sabbath day…”). He gave the command because he knows and wants what is good for us and for our world.
While we are not under a direct command to worship weekly like God’s people in the Old Testament were, we have an even better motivation to worship – the saving work of Jesus! God’s Old Testament people only worshiped in anticipation of the Savior, we, however, get to worship knowing the Savior’s work is complete and how it was completed. God’s people in the Old Testament worshiped with different levels of understanding of how God would save and what it would mean. We, however, get to worship knowing the whole story – creation, fall, redemption, and finally restoration because it has all been revealed to us in the Bible. While not under a command, we have all the more reason to make worship a weekly habit – because we know the fullness of God’s love for us!
So with all this in mind and heart, in September we are conducting a worship series called 10 for 10 – Encouraging Healthy Worship Attitudes and Habits. Its purpose is simple – to give our Mt. Calvary a taste of the blessings that come from being in worship every week and to encourage the practice. 10 for 10 will challenge each of us to be in worship 10 out of 10 Sundays over a 10-week period of time.
We might wonder “How is it possible to worship weekly – and to do so with joy and gladness rather than feeling obligated or burdened?” It all ties back to remembering why we worship in the first place. We do not worship to appease a god who will strike us with calamity big or small if we don’t. We do not worship as a means to procure and earn for ourselves blessings from God. Instead God draws us to worship by coming into our world in the person of Jesus Christ to rescue us from sin and all of its destructive effects in our lives. As John the Apostle said, “We love, because he first loved us.”
Weekly worship is important in the life of the Christian for several reasons. We need worship. Our brothers and sisters in faith need us in worship. And our future brothers and sisters in Christ (who do not yet know him) need us there too. Some in our family are already in the regular habit of worshiping weekly. For others, setting a goal of worshiping every week for 10 weeks will feel like a big step and a significant challenge. No matter where we find ourselves on that spectrum, our trust in God’s goodness is well placed. “Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us to Him be glory in all the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
You’ll be seeing and hearing more about this in the next several weeks. Please receive it all in the spirit that it is offered – an opportunity to grow in faith and love for God and our fellow believers.
In the name of Jesus,
Pastor Korey Van Kampen
 Quote from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address given at Kenyon College. Address transcript printed by the Wall Street Journal and sourced here: https://mbird.com/2008/09/more-david-foster-wallace-quotes/