If I were to get $10 each time I hear someone say “I’m a Christian but I don’t go to church”, I’d probably be quite rich but quite sad.
If you say that you’re a Christian, by which I mean a disciple of Christ, if you carry his precious name in your life as some people carry his cross around their neck, you belong to the church or God’s people, youare the church.
I’m aware that some people can’t go to church because they’re sick, don’t have any means of transportation or became Christians where there’s none around. I’m also aware that many people have been hurt and need time before then can set foot in a church again – as a French pastor told me once, “Sheep can bite!” But if nothing stops us from going to church and if we take God and his word seriously, we’re called to gather in order to build one another up in our faith in Christ. A Christian who doesn’t go to church is a bit like someone who claims to be a baker but doesn’t make any bread – I wonder if you’d go to this baker to get a good baguette!
If you say you’re Christian but you don’t go to church, with all due respect, I’m sorry to say that you’re a “UBO” or “Unidentified Biblical Object”, and that the majority of the New Testament doesn’t concern you – out of 22 letters, 19 are written to churches and not individuals. A Christian who doesn’t go to church is also a Christian in danger, a bit like a kindling on its own in a fireplace. Imagine that the Australian government decides to send just one soldier to fight in an enemy territory. Even if this soldier was provided with the best equipment, how long do you think he’d last?
As J. C. Ryle says in his famous book Holiness, the true Christian life is a fight, a “warfare of far greater importance that any war ever waged by man.” In other words, the true Christian life is a good fight, the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), a fight we can’t wage on our own. Do you understand why God created the church? Not to entertain us or to help us find a wife or a husband – even if churches can be good places to meet people – but to fight together, to encourage one another to persevere in our faith in Christ.
So if I go to church, it’s not so much for me but for you, not so much to do me good but to do yougood. You see, we need one another. I need you and I’m so encouraged when I see you at the English service or at the French service or at both! So let’s keep meeting together and encouraging one another – and “all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).