Time after time we see truths from God’s Word which follow the pattern of marriage. Inherent to God’s institution of marriage are certain qualities: commitment, love, forgiveness, and other virtues. It’s no wonder that God would so often use marriage as an example of our relationship with Him by faith. The clearest example of that connection is from Ephesians 5 where God compares the relationship between husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church. So, essentially, God is saying that He expects the same qualities in both relationships. Ephesians 5 is not the only portion of Scripture that makes this connection (Isaiah 61:10, 62:5, John 3:29, Revelation 21:2). Several others, especially in the Old Testament, also compare idolatry to spiritual adultery (Judges 2:17, 1 Chronicles 5:25, Psalm 106:39, Jeremiah 3, Ezekiel 16:5, The book of Hosea).
So, with this thought in mind, it’s not surprising that for every sin against marriage, there’s a parallel when it comes to faith in God. Lack commitment to your spouse mirrors lack commitment to God. Arrogantly ignoring sexual temptations mirrors arrogantly ignoring idolatrous temptations. Refusing to forgive others mirrors, and leads to, refusing to receive forgiveness from God.
I’d like to zero in on one particular area where I think this connection is largely ignored – church attendance. We’re well familiar with the “one-night stand” phrase in our culture and we know what it means. It is a blatant act of defiance to the LORD’s marriage mandates. It is a direct result of the uncommitted lifestyle. So, what is the equivalent in our relationship by faith with God? Church attendance. Church is where we interact with God. It is the realm for building our connection with Him through His Word and Sacraments. But, like faithfulness in a marriage, church attendance involves establishing a Godly habit. It’s not always glamorous to be habitual about something. Being faithful does not always feel fulfilling. But, this is the commitment we have been entrusted with by faith, and one that God expects of us.
Too many believers are having “one-Sunday stands” with God. Now, you may say, “I may not come every weekend, but I’ve sure been at church more than once!” That’s nice, but how does that stand in light of God’s commands to “Remember the Sabbath day…” and “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together (Hebrews 10:25).” Does limping along the bare minimum emulate the Godly attitude of, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD! (Psalm 122:1)'”? Does once or twice a month make everything better?
Likewise, some may also say, “Well, it’s not going to church that is important, it’s knowing and believing the Word.” Again, there is a grain of truth to that statement. Those present every Sunday are no more holy than those absent. It’s not about the individual, but about what is happening at church, or what a person receives. Grace can be received at home just as much as in the pew. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how often a person attends if they don’t actually believe anything they’re hearing. Hypocrites abound, we all know it. But, does that fact alone give you opportunity before God to justify your own absence? That’s like saying you don’t have to be in the kitchen to eat. Well, in a way you don’t have to, and not everyone in the kitchen is always eating. But, if that’s where the food is, why aren’t you, when you are hungry, also there?
The importance of church attendance is really simple so let’s not over-complicate it. God’s Word is there. God’s Word is good for you (necessary in fact). So, be at church. If you don’t feel the need, you might have commitment issues in your faith, and that is certainly not to be taken lightly.
Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “