That Sunday, I didn’t feel like going to church. I had a ton to do before Monday, “homework” hanging over my head. Everything inside me seemed to be saying, “You read the Christian Science Bible Lesson on your own. You pray. You can afford to skip church one week.”
But on the heels of that came another thought: “Maybe you can afford to miss church. But can the world afford to have you skip?”
It’s easy to think of church or Sunday School as being for us. It’s where we go to grow, to get inspired, to get our questions answered, and to be healed. And that’s awesome! Church is there for all those reasons, and I’m regularly grateful for the support and love I find every time I walk through the doors of my branch Church of Christ, Scientist.
Can the world afford to have you skip church?
But that me-centric model of church also has some problems. For example, if we’re not getting as much out of church as we want to, maybe we think it’s not worth going anymore. Or if there’s someone at church who isn’t the easiest to deal with, maybe it seems like we’d rather avoid the whole situation. I totally get all those feelings because I’ve had them. They’re also what’s gotten me to consider the larger purpose of church, beyond just what I get out of it.
“Can the world afford to have you skip church?” That’s a question I’ve been coming back to a lot lately, because it helps me think more about what it is we’re really about on Sundays and Wednesdays. Here’s one thing: We’re there to love and support one another, and unite in sharing Christian Science with our community. To love and help and heal our community. And it takes all of us to do that. Our churches provide the open doors for people to come in and find healing, to get their questions about God answered, to be supported and prayed for, and to understand more about the laws of God, which govern and sustain us all.
Here’s another cool thing about being part of a branch Church of Christ, Scientist: It’s one of the few places you can go where you know people are going to see you correctly—spiritually. The rest of the world may smack you with labels or box you in with limitations. But at church, the real you—beautiful, intelligent, honest, loved, and completely spiritual—can shine. And you can shine this light of Truth on others, too, by witnessing their true identity. Church gives us an opportunity to practice that kind of pure love that really wants to see another as God made him or her.
Knowing the power of active church membership helps me break down any resistance to participating.
That love is powerful, and it extends beyond the walls of your church. I know, because as I’ve committed more to thinking about giving to church—giving love, prayer, time, dedication—and as others in my church have, too, some wonderful things have happened. Last fall, for example, a family of refugees who had just come to the US found our church and were adopted by our church family. We’ve gotten to watch huge progress happen in their lives and to support them along the way.
At a recent Wednesday testimony meeting, the mom in the family shared her gratitude for the way our church, and Christian Science, have changed her life. For example, she’s learned to think about things more spiritually, and she’s seen what a transforming effect that has. And when she’s facing a problem? “I have an army of pray-ers to turn to,” she said.
An army of pray-ers. Can the world afford not to have that? Can we afford not to join in with this cause of “organized good” to help lift the burdens of materiality, selfishness, and evil from the world? This kind of giving does demand something of us. But I’m finding that it’s really worth it, and that knowing the power of active church membership helps me break down any resistance to participating. The world is blessed by our commitment to church. And you know what? So are we.