Mike Novotny - Do You Really Need Church?
Give me one reason I should come to church. That's what my soccer teammate dared me to answer the other day. I was casually trying to invite him to come to our church and and he stared back and me and said "Give me one good reason". And I tried all the usual options. Well, we have a lot of Jesus and the Bible and prayer and music and community. And he looked right back at me and said, "I already have all that" You know, I thought about his answer as I thought about this topic, being spiritual but not religious. And I realized that in our hyper-connected, social media, digital world, that it's probably really tempting to think that we can do everything in worshipping God without being connected to a religious community.
I mean, think about that, I might be an average preacher, but you could podcast a thousand preachers who are way better than me or your local pastor. We might practice for music for Sunday but you can stream the most amazing musicians playing your favorite Christian songs and worship Jesus in your car or in the privacy of your own home. We could pass an offering plate to give generously to help the poor and to spread the Gospel, but you could go online and make an automatic donation from your bank account. And we can talk about community and Bible studies and meeting people, but you're connected to hundreds, thousands of people online.
So, it's actually a good question. Give me one good reason. Why would I be part of this official community instead of just doing my own thing in my way in my own time? Well, the Bible has an answer to that question. Probably a lot of answers, but but there's one that's maybe tough to swallow. But to me, it's essential why I want you and I want everyone to be part of a church community. It comes from the profit Jeremiah, chapter 17 where he said in verse 9, Do you actually believe that?
The heart, Jeremiah is saying, like what's inside of you, the place where you make decisions and feel your feelings. It's deceitful. That means it doesn't tell you the truth and you don't know it. It's not just a lie that you see. It's deceit. You don't see it coming. He says that the heart is deceitful above all things. Like more than shifty used car salesmen. More than compulsive liars. Your heart, my heart, deceives us all the time. And if you and I believe that, we would run to a spiritual community. We would never, ever think that we could just be personally connected to God and not need people outside of us to correct us, to confront us, to encourage us. To spur us on, to remind us of Jesus's love when we feel so lost.
I wish I would have said that to my teammate. I think I need to find him and say it to him again. Why would you come to church? Why would you need a pastor? Why would you need people to keep you accountable? Because of your heart. Your heart will minimize sin and make too little of it. Your heart will maximize your guilt and forget about Jesus love and his forgiveness. Your heart will deceive you. It is beyond cure. You need us. And we need you. Why be religious and not just spiritual? Because of your heart. And most importantly because of the heart of God. Let's pray:
God, I know those are hard words to hear. We're taught in our culture this exalted view of self-esteem, that what's inside of us is beautiful and it's true and you just don't agree. God, you see every human heart and you desire to change our hearts and make them true. But we need help. We need people outside of us. The truth is not within us. It's in your Word. And so we pray that you would sanctify us by the truth in your word that we hear as we gather with other people in Jesus name. That word is truth. We pray it all in the name of Christ. Amen.