Generally speaking, I love it when I am teaching Bible class and someone raises their hand, or just interrupts me with a question. I enjoy the questions because often times the one asking, has a different view point than I do and I can learn from them. Other times I enjoy it simply because it means they are paying attention and trying to understand. I often encourage people to ask questions because I think it is a healthy thing to do.
However, I think there are some questions that are not only, “not healthy” but are damaging to themselves, and the church. No, these questions are not the questions typically asked in a Bible class setting. These are questions that are asked often only in the mind of the questioner. They rarely speak these questions out loud, though, they often think them.
Allow me to suggest 4 questions, that the Christian should never ask again:
- Do I have to go to every church service?
You know the question I’m referring to. Maybe it is from an individual who rarely attends a worship service and they are seeking justification for their decision to not go. Maybe it is the family that faithfully attends each Sunday morning worship service but is usually absent on Sunday night and Wednesday night. Regardless of the situation the question usually comes down to the same core question, “do I have to?”.
Allow me to approach this a bit differently than usual. I believe that it is extremely important for each Christian to be at every gathering of the Lord’s people that they can attend. I believe this because of the charge found in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the assembly. I believe Christians have an obligation to submit to the oversight of their elders (Hebrews 13:17) and if your elders ask you to be present at certain times for your benefit, you should listen to their wisdom and try to follow it. Most importantly, when the church meets on the Lord’s day it is to worship our God. It is my belief that nothing is more important than bringing honor and glory to God.
With that being said, let me tell you why I think this question is such a dangerous one to ask. It is dangerous because it is in keeping with a “checklist” mindset. The idea that Christianity is about checking items off of a list. As long as I have ________ then I can go to heaven. This mindset is dangerous. Look no further than the Rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He was a good man, he kept the commandments, and he was asking the question, “What do I still lack?” You see, he was a good man, and he cared about the truth. However, He was more interested in making sure he had “checked off” the appropriate items than he was with giving Jesus his heart.
Many Christians today who ask the above question, whether out loud or in their mind, are good people. They are nice, kind, generous, and law abiding people. However, many times, they have fallen short just like the rich young ruler by failing to truly give Christ their heart.
- Do I have to talk to people about Jesus, or can I just be a good example?
Throughout my lifetime, I have often heard Christians speak of evangelism in a way that distances themselves from any real responsibility in the matter. One of the most common examples are Christians that suggest they do not ever have to verbally speak about the Gospel to the lost of this world, they simply need to live a good life and they have done their part.
Allow me to first say, that any evangelistic efforts made from Christians who are not living the life that they are trying to persuade others to follow, will fail. A Christian living in the footsteps of Christ is a prerequisite to effective evangelism. However, simply living a quiet life is not all it takes to do your part in bringing others to Christ.
In Matthew 10:27 Jesus instructed His disciples with these words, “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” There will always be the exception to the rule. The one who approaches a Christian because they notice something different about their life and ask them about their faith. However, it is incumbent upon the Christian to open their mouths and proclaim the greatness of their savior.
- Can someone else do that?
This question dates back to Moses in Exodus 4. God was calling Moses to be the leader that He needed him to be. His response was to try to find someone else. Do you ever do that? Do I? When a new service opportunity is presented to the congregation is your first response to think of ways you can help or to just be glad that “someone will take care of that.”?
We are a busier people than perhaps ever before. However, we can never allow ourselves to be too busy for the work of the kingdom. In James 4:17, James writes “Whoever knows the good he ought to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Don’t allow Satan to fool you into thinking that you are “escaping sin” because you aren’t doing the “bad things.” Recognize that we are not called to be a people who are known for all the things that we do NOT do. We are called to be known for what we do. (Matthew 5:16)
- If it isn’t broke, why fix it?
This question is a killer. It may be a good policy while talking about a vehicle. If my A/C is running fine in my car, I’m not going to replace it. However, this isn’t always the best mindset while speaking of the work of the church.
Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that our work is not for us, it is for Christ. Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us to work with all of our might in whatever we do. What can we learn from this? Well, instead of asking “has this worked for the last 10, 15, 20, 50 years?” We ought to be asking, “Can we make it better?”
*Disclaimer* – I feel the need to clarify that no matter what we want, we cannot change doctrine. We cannot change the Word of God. We cannot change His commands. The changes I’m speaking about are dealing with matters of operation and tradition.
In Mark 7 Jesus chastises individuals that clung so tightly to traditions of man that they couldn’t see the things that were truly important. If we are not careful we can fall into the trap of getting so focused on tradition that we lose sight of the purpose.
Souls are at stake. May we never allow ourselves to get caught up in our own comfort and miss opportunities that are passing by. We should never settle for what is comfortable, but always pursue what is best.