by Tad Lindley
When I was a teenager I was at a friend’s home and they had a calendar from the church that they attended. It had a wide variety of special festivals and church services on it. My friend informed me that there were even some services on there that were a person to miss them, it would be automatic: they would go to hell when they die! As a grown man who has since read the Bible many times, I realize now none of those special holidays and festivals appear anywhere in the Bible. The only holidays that were celebrated by the early church were the Old Testament Jewish holidays, and the holiday Hanukkah (John 10:22-23).
What do you think?
There are two church services that you should never miss. Which ones do you think they are? I’m putting a filler sentence in right here so you don’t read ahead before you have time to think about it. Stop and think. Which are the most important two church services?
And they are…
Many people no doubt will pick Slaaviq and Easter. Others might be thinking of Good Friday (which celebrates the crucifixion, which actually had to have happened on Thursday, see Matthew 12:40) and Christmas. Still others, Palm Sunday and Easter. The fact of the matter is that none of those are the two church services you should never miss.Just as an aside, the word Easter does appear in the King James Version (Acts 12:4), but it has to be an intentional translator error; the apostles had never heard of “Easter”. The Greek word that they translated as “Easter” in that one case (pascha), everywhere else in the New Testament is translated as “Passover”, the Jewish holiday established by God in the Old Testament.
1. Never miss this service, and you’ll probably never go to jail
The first church service you should never miss is the one that you don’t want to go to. Think about it for a moment. If you force yourself to go to church when you don’t want to go, then you’ll be in good shape, because when you want to go to church, you’ll go, that’s not the problem. Nobody has to force himself to go to Christmas Eve service when the choir is doing Silent Night motion dance and you’re guaranteed to get a brown paper sack stuffed full of candy and an apple and a Capri Sun.
Of course none of us should ever miss church, ever. The book of Hebrews tells us that. Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (11:25 NIV). The fact remains that there may be occasions when we are out of town or scheduled to work or very sick when we might miss church. We should strive to keep those to a bare minimum.
Brother Lindley’s secret to staying out of jail
For the vast majority of us, if we could get to the place where we never miss the church services we don’t want to go to, and we don’t drink, smoke, or shoot dope in between church services, the chance is extremely high that we will never go back to jail. Put that in your cup and drink it!
2. The second service we should never miss
The first church service we should never miss is the one that we don’t feel like going to. The second service we should never miss is the one where God needs us to minister to somebody unexpectedly. There are times and places where, because of your life experience or family relationship, you are uniquely able to minister to someone in need. A cousin that has just come back from being homeless in Anchorage, or perhaps it is someone fighting to break free of heroin and they need badly to see someone they used to see in the shooting galleries with their life turned around. If you miss that service, it’s not about you going to hell, it’s about someone else going to hell.
Think about Ananias in the book of Acts. Saul of Tarsus was called to a meeting place by God. God even told Saul that a man named Ananias would come and pray for him (see Acts 9:10-19). Now imagine for a moment that Ananias had decided that instead of being there to minister to Saul he had had a basketball tournament going on. Or perhaps it was Superbowl Sunday, or maybe Halo 27 had just been released and he decided to stay home and play the game. Thank God Ananias took the church to Saul, because Saul became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, who ultimately brought the gospel to us.
Yes, there are two services we should never miss, the ones we don’t want to go to, and the ones where God needs us to be. Since he generally doesn’t tell us ahead of time which services those are, it ends up that we better be in church every time the doors are open. See you there!
You may be reading this and live in a place that has no church, or the church that is there is very distantly based on the Bible, but primarily it is built on the traditions of man and not on the foundations of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). If that is your situation, pray to God and ask him to raise up just such a church in your community. He will.
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.