All Of Us Have Our Place
If you were to suffer the loss of a body part, you would no doubt be sorely affected. Over time, you would learn to adjust to the loss – maybe you would learn new ways of doing things, of living – but somewhere along the way, you would come to a point of acceptance. You may never be sincerely happy about the loss, but you would eventually continue on with your life.
The same is true of a family. God’s family, in particular. In this body, we have many parts – feet, legs, arms, hands, etc. – and when one is missing, be it by death or by lack of church attendance, we suffer the loss. As the way of life goes, we, too, will eventually come to a point of acceptance, even as others may step in to fill the void. However, that one member, that one special member who is no longer there, will never truly be replaced.
No Two Are The Same
The reason for this is that each of us have our own unique place in God’s service. No two are exactly alike. For instance, a singing quartet includes four parts. One sings lead or soprano, while others provide the harmony of alto, tenor, and bass. Each voice is different and could likely stand well enough on his or her own, yet when they come together in support of one another, the beauty and volume of the harmony is even greater.
This is how it is when a church joins together with all of its members. In keeping with the musical analogy, one could say that we have a "song director" (Christ, who is the head of the church), a "lead singer" (the pastor), and an entire congregation of "vocalists" (the members) providing the harmony and support. Some may feel their part is small, some may even feel they have nothing more to offer than to sit on a bench. But even this is a valued portion of what church attendance is all about. If we’re not there, the preacher would be as a soloist singing to rows upon rows of empty pews. But when we are there, the harmony of our support blends together as a loud sounding choir whose sole focus is to worship The Lord.
Your Greatest Service
A prayer offered, a simple word of encouragement to another, an attentive ear to the sermons preached – these are not only valuable services of the child of God. They are essential. Yet one of the greatest services that a church member can provide is love.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal," the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
If you have felt at times that you have nothing to offer to God’s service, you should know that your love is more highly esteemed than any song that could be sung or any instrument that could be played. Genuine love or charity is what separates us from the world. Though it seems simple, our Lord has declared it as the greatest of all.
In Matthew 22:37-40, Christ says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
These two types of love – for The Lord first and for others second – are services that every child of God and church member should strive to attain. Our love for God should be the center of our focus before ever entering the doors of the church building, and while we are there, our love for the other members and our prayers for the lost should be next in line. If you can sing, sing loudly. If you can pray, pray earnestly. If you can teach, teach soundly. But if you can love, do so with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind. That is what you have to offer.
Feeding On The Word
Another reason on the importance of church attendance is that it acts as fuel for the child of God. It gives us strength and encouragement to simply survive from one week to the next. Without the support of the church, we would inevitably become weak in the faith, even without consciously being aware of it, which, in turn, would leave us more and more susceptible to sin and the temptations of the world.
Once following a meal (John 21:15-17), The Lord gave a threefold charge to the Apostle Peter to feed His sheep. As He asked of him three times, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" (once adding "more than these?"), He responded to Peter’s devout declarations that he did indeed love The Lord with "Feed my lambs," then the last two times with "Feed my sheep."
Anytime something is said more than once (other references to feeding the flock of God are included as well as this one), it is obvious that it is considered to be important. The fact that Christ gave this decree three times in one sitting shows that feeding on The Word of God is a significant part of our faith, and, as already mentioned, it is what gives us the fuel that we need in order to face different trials that may come into our lives. We do this by reading the Bible, following along or paying close attention as others read from it, and from hearing it preached.
"How shall they hear without a preacher?" Paul had asked concerning the lost in Romans 10:14. The answer is simple. They can’t, and neither can we if we aren’t there to hear it preached.
You Are Missed
If realizing that you are a vital part of the body that is absent isn’t enough, if knowing there is no other who can offer the love and support that you can isn’t enough, and if realizing the necessity of feeding on God’s Word isn’t enough, then it’s doubtful anything else will matter, either. For those cherished members who have been called on to live with The Lord, no one could ever take their place. Nor could anyone take your place. We can carry on without you, even coming to a point of accepting the loss of your presence, but when all is said and done, we simply miss you when you’re not there.
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25)