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Why Do You Go To Church?

A couple of days ago I was working from a coffee shop. It was very busy that day when a couple of men walked in. The only place for them to sit was across the counter from me. So they sit down and start to talk business. Then after they finish with their business transaction the conversation drifts towards church. The one man said, “You know, the reason I go there [his church] is because of the teaching (he made sure to really emphasize the word “teaching”). When I sit down with those guys we’ll all bring our concordances and references books. We’ll cross-reference verses and look up the Greek. You know [name of friend] went to Multnomah Bible College and [name of another friend] went to [name of some other well-respected Bible school].” The conversation continued like this. It was all about how good they could analyze the Bible. There was no talk about God or people. No mention of the friends this man had at church or the bond they had in the spirit. No discussion about how his life had been changed. It was 100% based on the “teaching” and how many “scholars” were gathered in one place. As I sat there listening to this conversation going on 2 feet from me I thought, man, is that really the best part of being born again and going to church? To analyze the Bible and be impressed by the fact that the people we agree with went to a prestigious Bible school? Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an intellectual pursuit of the Bible. But I...

Is the Gospel Behavior Modification?

No. There are lots of great programs out there (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous) that help you change your behavior. I don’t know many Believers who would claim that the Gospel is behavior modification. It’s not about trying to get us to just act a certain way. It’s the story about someone else, Jesus, who did everything for us so that we could become sons and daughters of God. Does our behavior change? Of course it does. When someone is born again they act different. When someone just starts “going to church” they might try to act different to fit in with the new church culture but just “going to church” will not change you on the inside. I know this stuff is fundamental. But personally, I love the basic principles of Christ. In a complex world like ours, it’s refreshing for me to meditate on simple truths like this. What we need is to have our hearts changed. We need to be awakened in our spirits. Yes, our minds need renewing but more than learning how to think “right thoughts” (which there’s nothing wrong with) we need to learn how to walk and live as new creations. The Word instructs (Col. 3:9-10) us to put off the old man and to put on the new man. I believe one of the greatest miracles of the Gospel is that we become new creations (not that we can think positive thoughts). We do not just become better versions of our old self. We don’t get an extreme heart makeover. No, we get a new heart. And that part (spirit) of us that was dead becomes...