This week Ernie and I are riding the bus to and from work because Ivy is on vacation.
Right now we’re sitting at the bus stop on Ina and Oracle Road waiting for the downtown bus to come along. That’s when Ernie said, “I been thinking about church.”
“You have huh … what have you been thinking about church?”
“Well, I’m trying to figure out: what good is church?”
“Alright, and what have you figured out so far?”
”Well, of course, fewer people seem interested in attending church because perhaps they don’t want to experience any discomfort.”
“Yeah, I read somewhere that church appeals to only four in ten people in the USA. Why do you think that is?”
“I’m not sure,” Ernie said. “I suppose a number of them don’t view the church as significant. Or maybe they’re too busy with other stuff …”
“Or,” I added, “they’re just plain lazy.”
“ … Yeah, you have a point. But, I think I’m trying to figure out what I’m actually missing by not going to church?”
“Well when I attend church, I hear some pretty good sermons,” I offered.
“Great! … So is that what church is, hearing good sermons … or is it more than that?”
Ernie said, “Well off the top of my head I’m thinking of two things I miss by staying away from church. First is the benefit of social interaction and second is the benefit of using and developing my talents and abilities.”
“That’s three things” I corrected Ernie’s math.
“Actually there are more than two or three things that I miss by not going to church.”
“Like what for instance?”
“Well for example:
- I miss loving the Jesus I say I love.
- I miss loving people inside the church.
- I miss receiving encouragement.
- I miss giving encouragement.
- I miss caring for the poor and needy.
- I miss getting care when I’m poor and needy. And maybe most importantly
- I miss showing others what God has accomplished in spite of me.
In other words I’m missing benefits I could be enjoying.”
I cleared my throat. “Hmm, interesting.”
“I avoid church because I have this nagging suspicion that the church is
- only concerned about my money and
- is full of hypocrites,” Ernie said.
“Yeah, those are legitimate points.”
“Well that could be true, yet,” Ernie concluded, “I think I’m hurting myself the most because the church creates opportunities I can’t experience anywhere else.”
I summarized what I heard Ernie say, “So you’re saying benefits are missed by missing church.”
The bus pulled up and we got on.