Four Scriptural Reasons to Miss Services
by Matt Hennecke
The Truth Shall Make You Free (John 8:31,32)
by E. R. Hall, Jr.
Four Scriptural Reasons To Miss Services
I've finally found it! For years I’ve been puzzled and amazed by the poor attendance of Christians at worship services and Bible studies. It seems more and more Christians have discovered more and more "good" reasons to be at other places than assembled with other Christians. Work, school events, ball practice, fatigue, vacations, parties, you name it and Christians everywhere are using it to justify being somewhere else on the first day of the week. Through careful Bible study, however, I think I've found at least four scriptural reasons to miss worship services.
Good Reason #1: Being Deep In Thought
Many times a train of thought is derailed because of the distraction created by a church assembly. This often happens to me on Wednesday nights. I'll be at work struggling with some task and, before I'm finished, I've got to drop everything and go to Bible study. Anyone who has business to do or meetings to attend can attest to the distraction and nuisance Bible study can be. It's hard to pick up a train of thought once we we've been interrupted.
Bible study or worship can also get in the way of homework. If you're working on a term paper and are in deep in thought, it's hard to stop what you're doing and find time to worship God or study His word. There is, however, scriptural justification for missing services if one is deep in thought!
Good Reason #2: Being Busy
There are many chores requiring our attention and not all require much thought at all. They're simply boring and tedious. Mowing the lawn is a good example. I've got a couple of acres and it takes me three or four hours to get it all mowed. Sometimes I get a late start and, before I can finish, I feel the pressure of some scheduled church service. In the past, I've had to interrupt the task, go to church and then return to finish.
Wouldn't it be nice it we could just work through the assembly and get the tedious chore completed without interruption? I've discovered a passage that makes it clear that missing services is justified if one is busy!
Good Reason #3: Traveling
My wife's family lives several hours from us. When we travel to visit them and happen to schedule our departure for a Sunday, we have to delay leaving until after church services. Sometimes, we even have to stop to worship while in transit. Nothing makes a trip longer than having to stop and worship somewhere. A seven hour trip becomes eight or nine hours. Worshipping with the saints sometimes means going out of our way. One time I was traveling on a Sunday morning through southern Indiana and I had to drive way off course to worship with the saints in Tere Haute.
Vacation travel creates other problems. There are many places in the world I'd like to visit, but there aren't any churches nearby. Wouldn't it be nice to go on a fishing trip into the Canadian Rockies and not have to locate a local church? Well, I believe I've found a passage in the Bible that allows one to miss services if one is traveling!
Good Reason #4: Oversleeping
That alarm clock seems to go off awfully early on Sunday morning. Even though I get up much earlier during the week, there is just something about Sunday mornings. I could easily sleep another hour. Like most Christians, though, I pull myself out of bed and make preparations to be assembled with the saints for Bible study and worship service. In recent years, though, I've noticed that more of my brothers and sisters are getting that extra hour of sleep. They stagger into the building just before worship and make no excuses about skipping Bible study. Their uncaring attitude used to really bother me. Not any more, I've learned there is scriptural justification for missing services if one is sleeping!
The Scriptural Justification
In I Kings 18:22-39, we are told of a showdown between Elijah, the prophet of God, and four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Two bulls are chosen - one for Baal, one for Jehovah. Preparations are made for a burnt offering. Everything's ready except for the fire. Then Elijah issues the challenge: "The god" who answers by fire, he is "God" (vs. 24). Baal's followers assemble. Worship services begin. The people call for Baal. They shout. They dance. But he doesn't arrive! Then, Elijah taunts Baal's followers by suggesting four possible reasons their god has missed worship services: "Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened" (vs. 27).
As I see it, these four scriptural reasons for missing services are good reasons if you're a false god. And, it seems, good reasons if you're a false Christian.
- Matt Hennecke
Via Weekly Bulletin of Perry Heights, Nashville, TN, April 14, 1996
The Truth Shall Make You Free
John 8:31, 32
Concerning this statement that Jesus made in John 8:31 and 32, let's consider some important questions.
WHAT IS TRUTH? Pilate asked this question in John 18:38, but did not wait for Jesus to answer. However, Jesus says that being free depends on the proper answer to this question. If we were to ask a dozen people, "What is truth?", we would probably get a dozen answers in return. The Bible gives the ONLY correct answer: "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word/s truth" (John 17:17). God's word, the inspired Bible, is truth!
FROM WHATWILL THE TRUTH MAKE US FREE? In the conversation that Jesus had in John 8, it is obvious the Jews did not know the answer to this question (verses 33, 34). Yet, they, like us, need to be free from SIN. We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:29) and sin is serious because it separates us fromGod (Isaiah 59:2). Not only are we all guilty of sin, we can all be made free from sin. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." When someone insists that they are waiting on the Lord to operate on their heart and do the moving, they deny that they can do the coming. They are saying, "No Lord, you come" while the Lord is saying, "Come unto me". Jesus never promised to make men free from sins in any other way but His way. He did promise that all who come to Him will be make free from the bondage of sin.
HOW DOES THE TRUTH MAKE US FREE? Again, only the Bible can give us the correct answer. Truth must first be known. "Ye shall know the truth..." Ignorance of truth cannot make one free. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Then we must BELIEVE the truth. "Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). Without faith in Christ, we will die in our sins (John 8:23, 24). Finally, one must OBEY the truth. "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Romans 6:17, 18 teaches that we are free from sins when we obey "that form of doctrine". From verses 1-5, we see the "FORM" was that of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Since we are dead in sin, we must be buried with Him in baptism in order to rise (resurrect) to walk in newness of life.
-E.R. Hall, Jr.
Via Know Your Bible, Vol. 3, No. 12, January 1994