I like you, but I don’t like your wife.
What would you do if someone said this to you?
Would you be upset? Angry? Would you still hang around this person? I will make an educated
guess that if someone speaks negatively or shuns your spouse, you don’t care much for them.
Most would agree this is justified.
Isn’t this how many treat the local church? People separate the Bride of Christ from Christ Himself, as if they are not wed together. In the South, everyone you meet claims to be a
follower of Jesus. Rarely will you meet someone who doesn’t think they are saved. However,
we all know people who profess to be Christians, but have foregone church membership in the
local church. Sure, their name may be on a church roster, but that is not biblical church
membership. Membership requires commitment. It means actively participating in a local
congregation on a regular basis. Many choose not to submit themselves to the authority of God. Is church attendance a matter of personal preference or Lordship? Is it required or simply
Hebrews 10:25 leaves no room for leeway: “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves
together, as is the habit of some ...” He does not stop there. As you read down the page, He
says that when we do, we will face judgment of raging fire (v.27), make ourselves enemies of
God (v.27), deserve to be punished (v.29) and are trampling the Son of God under our feet (v.29). Let it not be lost that the context of this entire chapter is speaking of attendance in a local congregation. Whew! God takes this stuff seriously! It sounds like we need to also.
Unlocking this passage requires we understand one word: forsake. It means to desert or abandon. It’s the exact same word Jesus uses when He cried out on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) Forsaking isn’t by accident. It’s always done on purpose.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Sometimes you’re going to have to work on Sundays.
Sometimes you get sick. Every now and then, you will be out of town. As you age, you might
become homebound and not physically able to attend church. Of course, these are exceptions.
In truth, most people don’t attend church for one reason alone: Because they don’t want to. In
the South, we are overrun with churches. We have 19 churches in the town I live in. All are
good and loving churches.
I have heard all of the objections a hundred times: “I am the hands and feet of Jesus;” “I
go to a Bible study at work;” “My family is my church;” “The church hurt me;” “I can watch
church on TV in my living room;” “That building is full of hypocrites.”
Here is the bottom line: God has commanded that His people go to church consistently.
Will you obey Him or not?
I pity the person who tells Him on judgement day “I like You, but I don’t like your wife.”
Andy Waits is associate pastor of worship and students at First Baptist Church in Springville. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.