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Why Going to Church Is Important to Me: Part I

Preface

I’ve been going to church pretty much every week ever since I was a baby. Naturally, attending Sabbath services was and still is a very regular part of my life. Sometimes I find it odd when people ask me what my plans are for the weekend, because for me, 50% of it is always the same thing. “Well on Saturday I’ll be at church most of the day, as per yooj, and on Sunday…I’m not really sure yet.”

Whenever something becomes routine and repetitive, it can start to feel ritualistic, and at times even meaningless. Church is no exception. I, and perhaps many others, often feel that I go to church simply because it’s just what I do, and I’ve always been taught that I should. Even when it feels like a drag, I still go almost purely out of obligation stemming from either myself, or from responsibilities I have at church.

When this happens, it’s natural (and good) for us to re-evaluate:

Why do I go to church? Why should I? What’s the point?

This can also lead to other deeper questions, such as:

What role does church play in my life? Is church really important for my faith and relationship with God?

For those of us who might be reflecting on these questions, I’d like to share the thoughts of a psalmist. I believe that what he has to say can help us in our re-evaluation of going to church, and ultimately teach us that yes, we should go to church, and church plays a crucial role in our spiritual life (spoilers).

Because our attention spans are probably short, I’ll try to split this up into multiple posts (but knowing me, each one will probably still be longer than intended…and total number of posts TBD).

Psalm 84:1-4

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young– even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.

In these first verses, the psalmist writes a very clear description of how he feels towards the tabernacle. The verbs he uses are very dramatic, especially when we look at their Strong’s definitions.

“My soul longs” — the verb “long” literally means to grow pale from pining. “Yes, even faints” — the verb “faint” can mean many things from being finished, completely spent, and…to faint. Both of these verbs express a desire that is so strong they exhibit raw, physical symptoms.

Why does the psalmist feel so viscerally for the courts of the Lord? He continues, “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” In other words, his true desire is to meet with God Himself, and the tabernacle, the courts of the Lord, etc. are the best places to do just that. And how does he know that? When we review the history of the tabernacle, we find that its fundamental purpose, in God’s own words, was to serve as a dwelling place for God where the Israelites could meet Him (Exodus 25:8, 29:42–43).

The church is the tabernacle of today

I don’t think it’s much of a leap to say that the tabernacle of today is the church. To clarify, “church” isn’t in reference to a physical chapel but rather the people who have been baptized and purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28). In Ephesians, Paul makes it very clear that spiritually, the dwelling place of God is the members of the church:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19–22, emphasis added

From this, I believe we can definitively conclude that the New Testament and modern-day equivalent of the tabernacle, the temple, courts of the Lord, etc. is the church.

So the next time we find ourselves thinking, “I don’t feel like going to church today…God is spirit, so I can worship Him on my own from anywhere in spirit,” or “I think I’ll livestream the sermon on my bed while in my pajamas,” let’s remember this:

If we are genuinely serious about wanting to be closer to God, even to the point of desperation, the best place to meet with Him is at church, where His people are gathered together.

When we’re going to church, we’re not just going to see our friends, fulfill our duties, eat, and go home like we do on every Saturday since we were baptized. We’re going to the best place there is to meet with God: His dwelling place.

It is just as the psalmist writes in concluding the first part of his psalm:

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Sabbath :)

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