By: Henry Knapp
The lightbulb clicked on. A moment of clarity. Suddenly, things that have been bumping around in the mind make perfect sense.
I recently had one of those moments when discussing an article with some friends; we were talking about parenting, passing on the faith, the role of the church, and worship attendance. And then, an idea clicked in my mind—people think of the Gospel as helpful, assisting us in living a good life, but not necessarily as truthful. Their involvement in the church is based on its practical value, not on its truthfulness. Why do many come to church? To learn helpful things for life, not to be exposed to God’s reality. Oh, many would no doubt affirm the truthfulness of what we learn at church, but that’s not the point—the point is that the Gospel is perceived as one asset in pursuing health and happiness.
Now, I want to be clear—nothing, not-a-thing, is more relevant for our everyday lives than the Gospel. God made us and made this world, and no one knows more about how we should live accordingly than He does. The Gospel does indeed direct us in living a good life. However—and this is a BIG “however”— the Gospel is nothing if not TRUE, and the instrument of proclaiming the Gospel, the Church, is above all else, a voice proclaiming the truth to this world. The Church teaches that which is helpful because it is teaching that which is true. The role of worship is to elevate the Gospel, that which is true, to draw attention to He who is the Truth, not just the One who makes life better.
If we focus only on church as “helpful,” it is easy to fall into seriously bad patterns. What if one Sunday, we are not “helped”? Or, what if other opportunities arise which also promise to “help” in life? Why not choose to do other things that are also helpful instead of coming to weekly worship? If the Gospel only proclaims that which is helpful, then it quickly becomes optional, one choice among many, and each individual is left to decide what might be most “helpful” for that particular moment.
But if the weekly proclamation of the Gospel at worship is the promulgation of the truth, then a different level of obligation arises—we need to be there! Truth from God’s Word is present! Worship is not one helpful thing among others, to be chosen if/when we feel like it. Weekly worship is exposure to Him who is True.
Following the desertion of some of His followers, Jesus asked the disciples if they too were planning on leaving, going elsewhere, seeking something else. In one of his more faith-filled moments, Peter replied, “Where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Each week in worship we gather to hear the words of eternal life—to hear that which is helpful, yes, but above all, that which is true.
At Hebron, we will exhibit an unambiguous commitment to the truthfulness of the Gospel. Yes, come to worship each week to be helped in your daily life—but know that the truth is present by the Word of God, and we will celebrate and worship the Author of Truth, Jesus Christ Himself.
To the Praise of His Glory!