Throughout my lifetime I've seen so much change within British society. And perhaps one of the most significant has been in how we, as a nation, treat Sunday. As a young boy I and many of my friends went to church regularly. But for most of the UK population today Sunday has become a second Saturday... shopping, sports events, washing the car... you know what I mean. And of course all this has meant a steady decline in churchgoing.
Of course if you were to ask non-church goers why they rarely, if ever, attend services these days I'm sure you'd get a wide variety of reasons. But to show the weaknesses of these 'excuses' someone has compiled an amusing list called 'Ten Reasons Why I Never Wash' as follows...
'I was forced to wash as a child.
People who wash are hypocrites – they think they are cleaner than others.
There are so many kinds of soap, I could never decide which was right.
I used to wash but it got boring.
I wash only at Christmas and Easter.
None of my friends wash.
I'll start washing when I'm older.
I really don't have time.
The bathroom isn't warm enough.
People who make soap are only after your money.'
And in applying this to church attendance... well, you get the point.
Of course, attendance at church services in itself doesn't make you a Christian any more than visiting Edinburgh Zoo makes you a monkey! But attending services where a church actually believes the Bible and tries to put its teaching into practice is always a good start.
This is because we were all made to worship! We were all created to have a worshipful relationship with our Maker and and if we're not worshipping Him then we're simply worshipping someone or something else.
As individuals, we were made in the image of God and we can't fulfil His purposes for our lives unless we first develop a right relationship with Him. And worship helps us to do that when we focus away from secondary issues and onto the Lord Jesus Himself. According to former Archbishop William Temple the benefits are as follows...
'In worship the CONSCIENCE is quickened by the holiness of God,
the MIND is fed by the truth of God,
the IMAGINATION is purged by the beauty of God,
the HEART is opened to the love of God,
and the WILL is devoted to the purpose of God.
Thus we are helped onward in our goal of becoming more like God.'
I don't know where you stand in all this but I do know that we all need to ask ourselves this important question... 'Who or what will be the focus of my worship this year?'