I am a quitter.
After many attempts, tries, and sportswear purchases, I have done everything I can think of to try and motivate myself to run and get in shape. Unfortunately, no matter what method I try, after a few short weeks, I resort to quitting.
As much as I wish exercise was the only area in my life I fail in, I also miserably fail at showing up. Blame it on COVID, anxiety, or plain laziness, but I like being home and avoiding real problems. Sweats and a good movie are a much better choice than going out and being a part of a lively scene!
But it gets worse. As COVID persisted, I clung to an excuse for not stepping back out into the real world – even face-to-face church meetings. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of my home habits were consistent with what I felt was best to keep my family and loved ones safe. However, the longer I stayed put, the more I realized how comfy it was to do church from home, and it left me choosing rest over relationships for a year.
I understand that there are many ways to justify a simple lifestyle. Every newscast or trending feed showcases chaos in politics, deaths, sickness, and causes hope to dwindle as the world gets darker. It’s overwhelming, and it’s easy to stay in and hide. Yet that is the exact opposite of what the Lord called us called to do.
Hebrews 10:23-25 says:
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
A quick look at this verse and I felt the Lord all but yell at me for “staying away from worship meetings, as some habitually do.” Ugh. Conviction. Suddenly, I realized my choice to stay in no longer reflected COVID. Instead, it reflected complacency.
According to a Barna study, last July 32% of Christians stopped attending church altogether amid the pandemic. Likewise, many have given up reading Scripture and other events related to religion. At first, it seemed okay and “safe.” But now, churches are slim and eager for hungry souls to enter through their doors again. Regardless, they are afraid to reenter those chapel doors for a select number due to fear, not of COVID, but judgment.
After being gone for a while and used to sweats, I found Satan likes to use a big ol’ dose of lies to trick you into why you shouldn’t return. Little lies like, “They’ll think less of you because you haven’t been in so long” or “What rights do you think you have coming back up here?” However, those lies were squashed when I first made my way back to my pew and choir spot. Instead, I was welcomed back.
Many were as excited to see me as I was them! I can’t help but imagine the same would be true of any other church across the U.S. We have to get back to showing up and serving instead of sleeping. Besides, we never know who needs to be seen and loved that day.
In choosing to show up, we aren’t only following the Lord’s commands, but we’re building lasting relationships with those in need. A handshake, hello, or hug could be exactly what another believer needs at the moment. How do those needs get met if we’re on the couch instead of the pew?
In a post-pandemic world, it’s hard to get back out there. COVID-19 stole a lot. But if we grow comfortable complacently, we choose to forgo God’s design for the church and lose out on ministering to those who are in need. It’s time to sharpen iron.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.
(Editor's Note: This was originally published online HERE.)