If this is your situation, it may help you to understand some of the reasons for this difficulty. That, in turn, may enable you to focus better on the needed changes in your life.
Things tend to go from an organized state to a disorganized state, not the other way around. Such is the teaching of the second law of thermodynamics. But we don’t need a physics lesson to emphasize this truth. Just look at your house, garage, or office. If you want it to remain organized, you have to work at it. I have a workbench in my garage, which I should rename a “catch-all” bench. It quickly goes from organized to disorganized as everyone in the family (and I’m the biggest culprit) piles stuff on it.
This is also true in our spiritual lives. Discipline takes effort. Attending church every week takes discipline. You have to organize your schedule so that Sundays are free for worship. You have to go to bed early enough on Saturday so that you can get up on Sunday. You have to inform family and friends that you are no longer available on Sundays.
Struggle with Self-Denial
Rising early on a Sunday morning, getting ready for church, and getting the kids ready not only takes discipline; it takes self-denial. You have to say “no” to what your flesh really wants—to sleep in, to enjoy some “me time,” or to get those chores finished that were left over from Saturday. It also takes self-denial to sit through a sermon at church that is meant to convict you of sin and challenge you to grow.
But the Christian life is about self-denial. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). We should expect self-denial to be part of our weekly Christian worship!
The Bible says that the flesh is our spiritual enemy (Gal. 5:17), but it is not our only enemy. Satan opposes us, too. And let’s face it; the devil doesn’t want you in church. Therefore, he will do everything he can to keep you from making faithful attendance your regular habit.
It’s important for you to understand that if you have been out of the habit of attending church, Satan has been getting the victory over you. In other words, he’s been winning in your life, and he’s not going to surrender his stronghold easily. That means determining to get back into church is going to take more effort on your part than those who have not gotten out of church. They have the spiritual momentum on their side, and you do not. But it’s worth the fight; after all, you don’t want the devil to be the winner over you!
Fear or Guilt
Many times, I find that fear or guilt keeps people from coming back to church. Someone may remark, “I don’t want to face what people might say.” I guess that some imagine that when they reenter the church they will have to face an inquisition about where they have been. But here’s the reality: people probably won’t say anything except that they are glad you are there. Actually, I believe that what you are really feeling is not fear but guilt. You know you should be in church, and you feel guilty for not doing right. Listening to the devil’s lies about why you shouldn’t return, including what you think people may say, will only increase your guilt.
The summer is often a time when we make changes to our schedules. The children are out of school. The days are longer. It is the perfect time for you to determine to get back into church. What’s holding you back? Identify the root problem and determine by God’s help to overcome it. See you next Sunday!
—Wayne P. Cooper