I love bible study. I spend hours every day reading the bible and comparing scripture as I am currently reading through the whole bible. But I don’t attend a church. I’m sure this is wrong, although I don’t feel bad about it like I do when I don’t read the bible. So my 2 questions are as follows: 1) Where does having an immense joy in reading the bible come from? Trust me I didn’t decide one day I was going to start liking the bible. And 2) How do I address the issue of not attending church?
I can only assume several things here:
1) You’re reading the Bible for fun. Which is like playing with gasoline in a furnace, or using a baseball bat to pick your nose.
2) You’ve made church an option, while the Bible clearly does not.
Whether you claim to be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, or whatever else, the Bible is not like a piece of art from Picasso or Rembrandt. It’s great that you enjoy reading it, and the fact that you’re digging into Scripture and reading the whole thing says more for you than other “Christians.” But as long as you keep it at arm’s length like something to be studied, you’re forfeiting the very power of Jesus Christ — you know, the Savior who gave death the middle finger and gives us the high five of eternal life.
Of course, I can’t force any of that on you. But if you truly are enjoying the Bible, that’s the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) beckoning you to His Truth. Please don’t ignore that. Consider that the Bible may actually be ALL true. I know, sounds like a fundamentalist. But if it’s true, that should literally scare the hell out of you.
About church: What’s the motive for not attending? Is it because you don’t like how the church is today? Because of hypocrites and swindlers and unpleasant preachers? Scams and scandals? I understand all that. There’s no perfect church. In fact I’ll guarantee that any church you attend, you will face a mass (get it?) of problems and petty bickering and dark seasons and pointless drama.
Which is exactly why you should go. You will be shoulder-to-shoulder and face-to-face with real people. You cannot know where you’re at spiritually unless you’re in the daily gritty grind with actual breathing human beings. The church is like a rock-polishing tumbler full of jagged stones: the only real way to be gems is through roughing it out with fellow Christians. Let me put Proverbs 27:17 all over that.
You might think you’re awesome. Attend church. You might be discouraged. Attend church. You might have a ridiculously high or terribly low estimation of yourself. Attend church. But more than that, the body of Christ is a house full of believers on a mission. You by yourself with your nose in the Bible is like a soldier cleaning his gun everyday. There’s a war: people going to hell, poverty, starvation, slavery, ex-convicts, abused women, your community.
When you read Ephesians, the entire letter is about unity. You’ll see quickly that the church is God’s Idea in the world to flex His Strength in a bunch of weak, incompetent, idolatrous people. It’s God’s chosen way to be a supernatural force in the universe.
I’m not here to persuade you. Keep reading your Bible: the Holy Spirit will convict you.