Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Bad Reason for Returning to the Institution: Personal Guilt

Quite a few Christians have departed from the church institution only to return again. Their reasons for doing so vary widely; some are much more valid than others. My purpose in this blog series is to point out some of the most common invalid reasons for returning to Rome.

The first reason I’m tackling is also one of the most common: personal guilt. By “personal guilt” I’m referring to feelings of guilt that a Christian brings upon himself or herself. These particular negative feelings are directly related to the perception of having done something wrong. The wrong thing in this case is “not going to church.”

It is an odd thing that so many Christians act as if God takes worship service attendance. The Gospel is not works-based after all. We don’t merit our way into heaven by being in church whenever the doors are open. Despite this, some who have departed institutional Christianity feel guilty for not doing the Sunday School and worship service thing. Where does this idea come from?

My guess is that this personally induced guilt flows directly from years of routine. Said routine is simply that you get up on Sundays and head to the building. This can be a difficult pattern to overcome. After leaving, Christians know that many other believers are still sitting in the pews.

Please let me be clear: God is not taking attendance. You do not need to go to a worship service to make our Lord happy. In fact, you don’t even have to gather with a small group of any sort each week. Salvation is the finished work of Christ. Our duty now is to simply enjoy knowing Him. No guilt needed.

It is, of course, beneficial to gather with other believers. When and where you get together is a matter of freedom. Do so when you want to. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Be creative to keep it from getting stale. And by all means eat together.

Please, I exhort you to rid yourselves of any feelings of guilt you have related to attending weekly worship services. God doesn’t care and neither should you.


Peter Horvatin said...

Yeah Eric,

I really can relate. I know that when I made up my mind to leave the Institution, there were times that I had lingering moments of feeling guilty. It took quite awhile to get over it and there were many times of quiet reflection to reinforce in my mind that I made the right decision. I concluded, "I'm not crazy." ha ha


Kevin said...

Yes, eating together is the best! We've been doing that virtually every week (unless doing outreach that doesn't facilitate a meal) in our house church for three years, and I've never felt more part of the body of Christ!