A Porsche, of Course

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
~ Romans 14:7

Because, like, you know, God’s, like, everywhere, you know.

I think I’ve heard it all. I’m still surprised sometimes, but I have heard a lot. Ask any pastor to tell you the best excuse he’s heard for someone not coming to church and he will probably give you a hundred without taking a breath. If a few pastors collaborated, they could publish an encyclopedia of excuses in a week. A man once told me he couldn’t come to church because his dog wasn’t housebroken. I heard a pastor say a woman told him she couldn’t come to church because it was too far to walk and too close to drive. A man once told me he was a member of the big church and so he didn’t need to join or attend any church. A woman once told me the only thing God requires of us is that we love everybody.

If you make any public post that people ought to join and attend church services, you had better brace yourself like when a doctor tells you you’re about to experience some pressure. It’s going to hurt. I haven’t kept a count through the years, but I think I’ve heard some variation of one excuse the most. “I can worship God anywhere.” If you think you don’t need to go to church because God is everywhere and you can worship him everywhere, you are right, mostly.

The Part That’s Right

The Bible clearly teaches God is everywhere, or he is omnipresent, if we want theological language. There is nowhere in this universe you can go where God is not there (Psalm 139:7-12). There is a day coming when God’s wrath will be revealed from Heaven and men’s misery will be multiplied because there is nowhere to go to hide from his presence (Revelation 6:14-17). You’re absolutely right about the fact that God is everywhere.

You’re also mostly right when you talk about worship. We could quibble over the difference between the hypothetical possibility of can and the objective reality of do, but I will leave that alone for now. I think what you mean by being able to worship God anywhere, is that there is no one particular place you have to be to worship God. You’re absolutely right about that. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Gerizim or Ebal, or anywhere else (Deuteronomy 11:29; John 4:19-24). There’s no special dirt, grass, or sawdust anywhere we have to have to worship God. There are no holy floorboards or holy carpet in a building that gives us access to God. If someone tries to tell you there’s a secret chamber where you have to go to meet Jesus, don’t believe it now and don’t believe it in the future (Matthew 24:26).

If God is everywhere, then he is everywhere, and everywhere you are, he is too. That’s about as sequitur as you can get and that reasoning is sound. In one way you’ve said a lot, but in another way, you ain’t said much. About all you’ve established is that a Porsche is a Porsche, of course. But the reality of the magnificent mechanical beast in your driveway and your hair blowing in the wind at 100 mph on the highway, are two different things. This is where i take issue with what you’ve said.

The Part That’s Not

Whether you can worship God all by yourself in a cabin in the woods has nothing whatever to do with why you should join and attend the services of a good church. The Bible does teach us to assemble together with other believers, but not because that is the only “place” where we can worship, praise, and pray to God (Hebrews 10:24-25). Pagans build little shrines so their gods will inhabit them and the worshipers can earn their gods’ favor. Christians have turned from all that and worship the true and living God, and so we know God doesn’t live in houses we build with sticks and stones (Ac 17:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

A church is not a building we have put up for God to live in and so we can come visit him. A church is an assembly of people who are believers in Jesus Christ and have been joined together following their baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27; Romans 12:5). You should join a true church and be faithful to assemble together because you need them. Yes, you need them. Need is the right word. This is what Paul said to the church at Corinth.

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
– 1 Corinthians 12:20-26

A church in a location is the body of Jesus Christ. All the members are necessary and need one another. This point is emphasized by the distinction Paul made between higher and lower order members. The eye and the head are higher order members with greater position and capacity than lower order members like hands and feet. Paul’s point is that especially in this case, the eye cannot say he doesn’t need the hand, because he does.

When you say you can stay home and do just as well as going to church, you are saying you don’t need anyone else. You can read the Bible on your own. You can pray to God on your own. You can sing songs of praise to God on your own. You can do all kinds of things on your own, but you cannot fulfill 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 on your own. You cannot manifest the fruit of the Spirit on your own (Galatians 5:22-26). You cannot bear one another’s burdens on your own (Galatians 6:1-10). You cannot be forgiving and display brotherly love on your own (Ephesians 4:31-32; John 13:35). You also cannot come to the unity of faith and perfection of maturity on your own (Ephesians 4:1-16). I say again, you should join a good church because you need them.

About Jeff Short