24th March 2011

Hatched, Matched And Dispatched

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

What kind of a Christian are you? Until I was 30 years old I was a ‘hatched, matched and despatched’ Christian. By that I mean I only went to church for a christening, a wedding or a funeral. I think a lot of people are that way today.

But when I was 30, through the good example of a friend, I started to attend church regularly. The church I joined was very legalistic, although I did not understand that at the time. Going to church every week was a requirement for our salvation we were told, just to give one example of that legalistic approach. There were quite a few other rules and regulations to follow as well! Despite that, I loved going and made many good friends, as well as gradually absorbing a lot of information about the Bible. It was, and still is, a church that had a great respect for God’s word.

However, over time we came as a church to see our legalistic approach was wrong and we went through a great upheaval in what we understood, taught and believed. Now I enjoy going to church even more, because we are no longer commanded to do so every week. Instead we go out of love for and respect for God.

We have come to understand Grace and what a difference it makes. Grace simply means that Jesus Christ came to earth and was sacrificed to pay the penalty of our sins. Grace means it all depends on what Jesus has already done, not on what I do. What a blessing that is, since neither I, nor any other human being, can keep the law perfectly.

But we don’t have to because the Son of God has already done it for us. That understanding takes all the stress out of being a Christian, and enables us to be relaxed and joyful Christians.

It does not mean we have no trials or problems to face. We live in a society that seems designed to create stress and pressure for us. We still have the trials of ill health, financial problems, divorce and sometimes death to face, as does everybody whether Christians or not.

But through our church we also have great encouragement from other members; a time each week to set aside the short-term problems of this life; and to remind us of, and refocus ourselves on, the true priorities. That’s the value of being a regular churchgoer, or it should be. Churches are not perfect because they are full of human beings to whom it can sometimes be difficult to relate, and who can bring in the attitudes of the society in which we all live.

But maybe it’s worth giving your local church another go. Commit to attending regularly for, say 3 or 6 months, and see if it makes a difference to your life.

A little Bible study and prayer will help as well. If you are only a hatched, matched and despatched church-goer, you are missing out on a lot of the benefits that only regular church attendance can bring.

Loving Father, help us to enjoy our time together with fellow Christians at weekly church services, to seek to give and receive the encouragement we all need and to refocus on the true eternal values in our often too busy and stressful lives.

Study by Keith Hartrick

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