I want to go. I need to go. I have to go!

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I want to go. I need to go. I have to go! They might be the demands of your 4 year old as you sit on the M6 in a traffic jam about 20 miles from the nearest service station. But they’re also the different attitudes that people have to going to church.

We’re suffering from the usual summer down turn in attendance. Most of that is for very good reasons; holidays, serving on Christian camps, looking after elderly relatives. But I think that some people see (sunny?!) summer Sundays as a time to have a little holiday from church. That’s because they decide on coming to church on the basis of the question: “Do I want to go?”

Now all Christians should want to go to church. One day we will only want to be at church. Because church is the gathered people of God praising Him, and that’s what we’ll be doing forever in the New Creation. But my sin means that quite often I don’t want to go to church (and I’m the vicar!). So I need to ask myself the second level question: “Do I need to go to church?”

Again the answer from all Christians should be: “Yes!” I need to hear God’s word preached so that I am encouraged. I need to meet with fellow believers so that I’m spurred on to love and good deeds. I need to express my dependence on him in prayer so that I receive his strength and grace in my time of need. Sadly, once again, sin means that many people can convince themselves that they know better than God, and they don’t need to go to church. So in the end we all have to ask the bottom line question: “Do I have to go to church?” (Even as I type that I can hear a little whine in the words!)

And the answer is: “Yes!”

Sometimes people say, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” Well they’re right that going to church won’t make you a Christian. But if you’re a Christian you’re a part of the one true church of all followers of Jesus (Matthew 16:18), and therefore you’ll want to express that by gathering in local churches with fellow Christians. And even when you don’t want to do that, you have to. Why? Because God says so!

He says in Hebrews 10:25 that Christians are not to give up on meeting together. In fact they are to meet together all the more as the day when Jesus appears to judge gets closer. And as far as I can work out that day is closer this August than it was last March…