Attending Replaced Belonging

...all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

– John 13:35

One of the joys I have in life is the blessing to play bass guitar at my church for worship. I have never considered myself a real, "bass player," but I really enjoy music and love getting to be a part of corporately praising God by the use of an instrument.

Well, a few weeks ago I was contacted by the worship leader at a different church about filling in for their absent bass player on a Sunday morning. I was not scheduled to play at my home church so I agreed to go play, and it was a huge blessing! Not only was it a blessing to worship with a different gathering of believers, but their preacher said something that really resonated with me while I was there. While talking about today's church culture, he made a very insightful observation.

People are starting to value attending over belonging.

That phrase jumped out at me! Sadly, it is incredibly accurate. People are more wrapped up in providing their presence on a Sunday morning, rather than giving their life to a community of people who are pursuing Jesus. They see the church as a place to go once a week, not a gathering of indispensable brothers and sisters!

Just the other day, something happened at home that is a picture of what we should be as the church. My son stepped on a thumbtack on the floor and the tack went into his heal. The pain was sharp and the tears were real. My wife went into Doctor Mom mode and began helping him get it out. When she was getting a band-aid, his sister spoke up, "It's my brother and I will do this for him!"

That is the family mentality. I'm not going to leave you hurt, I'm here to help you through this! However, every Sunday and throughout the week, there are people walking with tacks in their feet. The pain is sharp and the tears a real, yet, due to our culture of attendance and not belonging, people do not feel free to let others see the pain. We are just happy churchgoers. Or even worse, we scream out in the pain, and people either ignore you because it is an inconvenience or look at you and say, "I'll pray the tack comes out and you feel better." We should pray for others, but how about we also pray with them. Sit with them, cry with them, give them encouragement, put the scripture before them. They are your brother. Your sister. They are your family! We need to stop hiding behind a token phrase of, "I'll pray for you," and start saying, "you are my family, I'll go through this with you."

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35

We will be known by how we love one another, not how we shake a hand and smile on Sunday morning. Where is our value of family? Where is our value of community? Where is our sacrifice for one another? Where is our belonging? If you are like me, we have a lot of room to grow in this. Let's get real with each other and take up the call to be known by how we love one another.

Sunday Reflections are short articles that share thoughts from weekly Bible reading, devotions, sermons, or times of worship. You can find more of them here.