“Skipping Church” by Pastor Scott Carson

“On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.” Kent Hughes

When you feel that you need a random day off of work, what do you do? Do you schedule a vacation day or do you call in with some overblown cover story? How long does it take to come up with that excuse?
One-in-four workers consider sick days equivalent to vacation time. No wonder workers are so crafty at calling in sick. CareerBuilder.com took a look at employees who call in sick with bogus excuses. 32% of workers admitted they called in sick when they felt well at least once over the course of the year. The most popular motivator for missing work: good, old-fashioned R & R. Nearly half said they needed to relax, while 24% wanted to catch up on sleep. Other top reasons included personal errands (20%), doctor’s appointments (17%), plans with family and friends (16%) and housework (16%).
While some employers said they typically don’t question excuses given, others were more skeptical. Almost half of employers have caught an employee calling in sick with a fake excuse; 27% said they’ve fired a worker for calling in sick without a legitimate reason. 41% said they’ve received unusual or suspicious sick-day alibis.
When asked to share the most unusual excuses workers gave for missing work, hiring managers revealed some of their favorite excuses/alibis: Employee was poisoned by his mother-in-law. A buffalo escaped from the game reserve and kept charging the employee every time she tried to go to her car from her house. Employee was feeling all the symptoms of his expecting wife. Employee called from his cell phone, saying that he was accidentally locked in a restroom stall and that no one was around to let him out. Employee broke his leg snowboarding off his roof while drunk. Employee’s wife said he couldn’t come into work because he had a lot of chores to do around the house. One of the walls in the employee’s home fell off the night before. Employee’s mother was in jail. A skunk got into the employee’s house and sprayed all of his uniforms.  Employee had a bad case of hiccups. Employee blew his nose so hard, his back went out. Employee’s horses got loose and were running down the highway. Employee was hit by a bus while walking. Employee’s dog swallowed her bus pass. Employee was sad.
As I read that, it reminded me of some of the excuses Christians give for skipping church. Two traits are generally true of healthy Christians: they’re regularly in the Word and they faithfully attend church. It’s always saddened me when I see Christians who seem to feel that skipping church is a vacation day from “work.”
Imagine that Jane and I had a weekly date. How would she feel if she knew I looked for excuses to skip it? Or, if when we were together, I was continually fidgeting, looking at my watch, and as soon as I could, bolting out the door to go do something I considered more important or more enjoyable? How would she feel if she knew I saw our time together as something to endure, not enjoy and loved periodically escaping?
Think of some of the rationalizations that we use to skip, “I’ve heard it all before.” How would Jane feel if I told her, “Jane, we don’t need to spend so much time together. I know you love me. I’ve heard it all before.” None of us have even come close to hearing it all before or arriving spiritually. Our spiritual life is something that either moves forward or backwards, up or down, grows or shrinks and dies. The only way for faith to increase, according to Romans 10:17, is “by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” God has most frequently facilitated the planting, nourishing and strengthening of our faith through His Word being proclaimed when believers gather as a local church family.
How about, “I’m really busy right now”? What would that say about my relationship with Jane if I was just too busy to spend time with her? If committing a couple of hours weekly to public worship and Bible Study on Sunday morning is too much that it just can’t be done, how does that reflect on my priorities as a Christian? Those things in our lives that take precedence in our schedules are the things we see as most important. Look at Christ’s life. Jesus was busier than any other person who’s ever lived, yet He made public worship a priority in His life.
Probably, the one that is most dangerous is, “I know that I should but…” In other words, I don’t care enough. I think it would break Jane’s heart if she felt I didn’t care enough to spend time with her. It’s a frightening moment when a Christian stops caring about being with Jesus.
I have a friend who’s obsessed with a certain sport. He’ll take his family half way across the country to attend an event. Though a professing Christian, he rarely attends church. He makes certain though that his kids are always at these sporting events. (Please understand, it can be anything, a sport, hobby, work, sleep, music, entertaining friends, etc.) Sadly, I know how this usually ends. Someday it will break his heart when his then grown children have an even more casual attitude than he does toward the Lord, spiritual values and sin. There’s a strong possibility they’ll reject it all altogether. What seems so important now will be so valueless then.
If Jesus loved the Church enough to die for her, then shouldn’t we love her enough to make the church a priority in our lives? The problem is really not our love for Christ’s Church. When being with the Church is unimportant, it’s most likely we’ve become like that group of believers in Ephesus – we’ve abandoned our first love (Revelation 2:4). Our lives will be in discord internally, externally and most of all spiritually, until we return to that first love for Jesus. When we do, we’ll love what He loves. Jesus loves His Church (Ephesians 5:25). If we love Jesus, we will love what He loves.