Sometimes when my pastor is delivering his sermon, I like to look out over our church congregation and take in the faces of those who sit around me. Some are eagerly soaking the pastor's words, taking notes, and nodding along. Children are squirming in their seats and smiling at people around them. Then there are their mothers who give them the silent warning to behave and sit still. I often see a husband lean into his wife, put his arm around her shoulder, and look at her with a smile. She grins back and scoots in closer. Then there are the strong gazes of a few older men and women who sit alone because their wives or husbands have gone to be with the Lord. Even from their stance and "amens" throughout the sermon, you can tell they know and trust the faithfulness of God. These are only some of the beautiful moments I witness in church, but I know there will be plenty more throughout my lifetime.
But if I'm honest, sometimes my fondness for the faces of these saints does not draw me out of the deep sleep of a Sunday morning. Instead, it is the ringing alarm and heavy footsteps of other family members outside my door that give me no other option. And I begrudgingly follow suit. Sometimes I am even rehearsing excuses of why I can't go in my head, but I eventually push them away, knowing I need to be with my church family and going will be worth leaving my warm bed.
I have a feeling I am not alone in this sentiment. We love our churches and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but sometimes the weariness of the week catches up to us, and we don't always have pep in our steps as we find our seat in the sanctuary. It feels more like an ungraceful hustle until we are finally seated and can let our breath catch up to us.
So what are things we need to remember to encourage us to thank the Lord as we sit with our church body on Sunday? What could motivate our sleepy bodies to get out of bed a little more quickly?
I have three things for us to ponder to help our love for Christ's bride, the church, to grow, and to help you get out of bed on Sundays.
1. Remember Church Members are Fellow Temples of the Holy Spirit
"Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body." – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB)
As you look out at the faces of those sitting in the pews, remember that God gives His Spirit to those who claim Christ. God (hopefully) dwells with almost every person who comes into your church on Sunday. A gathering of believers is a scary place for any demonic presence or spirit that is an enemy of God because each believer is a temple of His Spirit. So as you interact with your brothers and sisters, remember they are not only made in the image of God but they have now been made into a dwelling place for God because of the gospel. Be astounded at the profound presence of God in your sanctuary as you gather together and seek to serve these men and women, knowing that your service is ultimately done unto the Lord.
2. Know You Will Taste Eternity in Church
"And the ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee." – Isaiah 51:11 (CSB)
One day your brothers and sisters in Christ who are a part of your local church body will be among the great throng of people who are returning to the heavenly city of God. The Bible often talks about Zion in reference to New Jerusalem, where God will physically dwell with His people once more. Their destination is the same as yours, and they will experience the greatest joy of all with you as the curse of sin is defeated forever, and we can be with God again. When you gather together every Sunday, you are experiencing a foreshadowing of the return to Zion. Being in our churches is a picture of heaven, and it encourages us as we continue in a world that opposes God.
3. There is Wisdom in Community
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." – John 14:26 (CSB)
Since the Holy Spirit resides in each believer, He teaches us "all things" and reminds us of the words of Christ as we journey in the world. Thus, the Holy Spirit is sanctifying our minds to become more like Christ. When you encounter a difficult situation or problem, you can turn to the Spirit for guidance, and you can turn to the wisdom of other believers who also possess the Spirit. Now it is always good to test the words of others against Scripture. Even though believers have been given the Spirit of God, we are still growing in Christ-likeness, which means not everything we say or do will be perfect. But the Lord has given you your church family to be a sounding board for help in walking in a manner worthy of the gospel. Older believers who have been in the Word of God longer than you have and have experienced more life would be excellent people to talk to when difficult questions arise. They possess the Holy Spirit, and their answers will show signs of this.
And because they are seeking God just like you are, many of them will have rich encouragement from the Scriptures, and their perspectives and insights can be a strong support to your faith. And you have the privilege of being a strong support to them. There are things the Lord is teaching you in His Word, that though you may not realize it now, will be used by the Lord to bless another believer as you share what you learn.
You have been given a great privilege to be part of the body of Christ, and to gather with them every Sunday is an opportunity many believers around the world do not have. Let Sunday mornings be our favorite day of the week because God's people are together and worshipping the Lord.