photo by David Paul Ohmer
You would think that for most Christians this would be an easy commandment to keep. You’re a Christian, you go to church, right?
Actually, the commandment doesn’t specifically say that we’re to walk inside a structure designed for gathering people to worship and sing songs and hear a sermon preached. It tells us we’re to observe it, like a holiday, and keep it holy, a day set aside as special before the Lord.
That’s the excuse given by those who argue that they’re a Christian, but they just don’t go to church. After all, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible, “Thou shalt go to church.” However, we’re not meant to read the Bible snippet by snippet, using a single verse as a literal rationalization for our self-serving Christianity.
Remember? It’s not about us.
Jesus was in the synagogue every Sabbath. Sometimes he was listening, most of the time he was teaching (what were you doing when you were twelve years old…), but always he was there. I’m guessing that since we’re named after Him, Christians, we ought to be following His example.
All the hand picked men of God were in synagogue every Sabbath. From the prophets to the apostles, gathering together to worship as a corporate body was not just expected, it was mandated. And as hand picked men of God they were smart enough to understand that when God commands it, you do it.
The first century church set the example for all future churches. They came together not only out of love for the Lord, but for each other as well. They worshipped, communed, fellowshipped and learned together, and the apostles did all they could to make sure that, as a body devoted to Christ, they stayed on track with correctly and lovingly obeying the fourth commandment.
Our following the fourth commandment as a family entails that we follow the example of those who came before us, most especially that of Jesus, whom we adore.
To make sure your child learns to embrace this commandment here are my words to you:
Don’t make extracurricular choices more important than going to church. You won’t find yourself overwhelmingly supported on this by others, but that baseball tournament, or that 4H competition or that all-nighter pulled Saturday night shouldn’t be more important than worshipping God as a family. There are ways around the obstacles. There are other churches in town, you can have a time of purposeful family devotion, or you can listen to a sermon podcast or on CD as you’re traveling. Plant the seed that it’s all right to make exceptions for going to church and your child will find ways when he goes off to college or out on his own to extend that reasoning to other areas of his life.
Demonstrate an enthusiasm for going to church. Don’t make church a rules-based decision. We get to go to church because we love God and love being with other people who love God. Talk it up before going to it and talk about it afterwards. Let your child hear you discuss with your spouse or someone else the sermon or how much you loved participating. Let your child think that to not go to church will mean he’ll have missed something.
Engage your family in the church. As the family of God we should get to know one another. Participate in ministry, attend Sunday school or small group study, get to know the pastor, invite someone over for dinner. It’s real easy for a child to walk away from the faith if there was never a connection made with church being family.
Emphasize that church is about God. This is a hard one to get across because we all struggle with it. We go to church because we relate to the music or the pastor is a good speaker or because we feel meaningful with our service there. All of those things are good things, but it’s not the primary reason why we go to church. Church is about worshipping God and celebrating a risen Savior. As such, when God commanded we observe the Sabbath, it was with that intent in mind.
This commandment should be an easy one to keep, but it actually takes a little work on our part as parents to make it so. Nonetheless, teaching your child obedience to the Lord is always, always a worthwhile endeavor.
Do you like what you read at TGMT? Email the link to five friends and let them know how much you enjoy what TGMT has to offer.