By Sgt. 1st Class Mike Hieb
Special to GUIDON
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”
— Hebrews 10:24-25
I know life seems busy, the world appears smaller, and people connect through various electronic devices rather than in person.
Modern culture and technology have likewise had vast influence on the church. Local congregations have become smaller and fewer people know or feel the need to attend worship. But I’m here to tell you, church is important, it is beneficial, it really does make a positive difference to you and the community you are part of.
You may or may not have grown up going to church. I grew up in a church going family and loved it. I wasn’t at the same church my whole life. As a matter of fact, we sought out churches that seemed “alive.”
I mean, churches that were friendly, godly, and we could use our God given talents to compliment ministry that was already occurring. I attended two different churches from birth through high school, a handful of churches through college, one church as an adult prior to enlisting in the Army, and have attended on post chapel services over the last eighteen years in the military with my wife, four children, and nephew.
Why you might ask? Let me say first, that I am Christian, which means I trust and believe what the Bible tells me. That leads me to a primary reason I am part of the church. God wants me to be a part of a church, the body of believers. He told me so.
We are told in scripture, by God, to continue meeting together with other believers. It’s not just some minor detail or insignificant portion of scripture. There is good reason why church and being in the body of believers is important.
Even those who may not attend church or have a faith background understand the importance of being part of a community.
Maybe the divine creator of the universe was on to something when He said we should not give up meeting together.
If that isn’t convincing enough, there are plenty of other reasons to go to church. It is a place to hear the Word of the Lord, taught by a pastor, teacher, or friend. Hearing the Word on a regular basis helps maintain focus on what is important, keeps you mindful of your thoughts, actions, and words, and you discover and are reaffirmed by truth. Church is a place where you can find godly mentors and peers.
These are trusted people who keep you “on the straight and narrow,” not in a condemning way, but in a supportive, “let me walk with you” way. They help you grow and mature.
They are there to help you bear your burdens as well as celebrate in your victories. The church reflects the term “iron sharpens iron.” Surrounded by supportive believers, you can keep each other accountable, growing strong, and living right and healthy. You will have an outlet to serve others, using the gifts God has given you specifically. In turn, you will be a light to your greater community. All pretty solid reasons to not give up meeting together, right?
I know, I can hear the argument now?.. But churches are filled with hypocrites, judgmental snobs, and goody two shoes. Well, kind of, but not really. You’re going to get a mixed bag in the church. The common denominators are, we are all sinners, and we are all there. Church isn’t necessarily the place for people who are perfect and have it all together. Jesus said himself, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Given that, who would you expect to find in a church? Yep, broken, hurting, flawed people, who want to be more like Jesus, who want to know him better, but sometimes mess it up. The important thing to know, is that you shouldn’t let that hinder or discourage you from coming to church.
The purpose and reality of the church goes far beyond the limits we, the flawed individual, can put on it. The church is there for us to come together as a body of believers, seeking a closer relationship with Jesus, to worship the one true God.
It is there for us to be built up and build each other up in faith and encouragement. It is there to teach others the word of God and declare his goodness, mercy, grace, and salvation.
So, allow me to finish where I began.
Attending church, whether on post or off, is important, it is beneficial, and it makes a positive difference in your community. God wants you to be part of the church. Those of us already there, welcome you to be part of the church.
Remember the words of the most important person I have ever known, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let up encourage on another.”
Hope to see you at church on Sunday.
(Editor’s note: Hieb is the Senior Religious Affairs non-commissioned officer.)