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Welcome back to our “Your Family Needs to Go to Church” series. This is Part 2; so if you missed Part 1, check that one out first.
Last time we talked about what the church is and what the purpose of church is.
Today we’re going to dive into the motivation for church.
But before we do that, I’d like to share our newest review with you.
This one is from Angelcat09, and she says, “Great biblical information for parents. He just speaks a little fast and sometimes I miss parts of the information.”
Oh, Angelcat, you’re probably getting an “Amen” right now from many other listeners.
I think it’s funny you mention that. When I listen to podcasts, I generally listen to them on 1 1/2x speed. Sometimes, if the host is from the South, I can listen to it at 2x speed.
And I’ve often wondered if any of my listeners might be tempted to listen to me on 1/2 speed.
Well, Angelcat, I will do my best to slow down a little. I definitely am tempted to fly when there’s a lot to discuss in under twenty minutes.
Oh, well. We all have our vices, but thank you for the observation that everything we try to teach here is biblical. God’s Truth is most the important part of our parenting.
That’s why the concept of church is so vital for your family. But it’s probably not vital for the reason you may think.
Last time I listed out twelve benefits of going to church from an article by The Art of Manliness. And, though I acknowledged that many of their bullet-points may occur when you go to church, I observed that none of those were the reason God created the church.
Got created the church to glorify Him. He ordained the assembling of believers so that the believers could be equipped to glorify Him better by drawing closer to Him and by introducing others to Him.
Everything else is a perk — the icing on the cake.
But one of the biggest problems with going to church is the same problem with everything else we do in life . . . we do it for the wrong reasons.
So, today I want to talk about four things:
So, let’s start with #1.
1. Why is motivation so important?
Some of you may remember our “Teaching Your Children to Obey” series. If you haven’t heard it, you defiantly need to check it out. It starts in episode 138.
In that series we defined true obedience as doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power.
And — as uncomfortable as it may be to admit — we already know why motivation is so important. Everyone listening to my voice knows that you wouldn’t want me to do something nice for you just to manipulate you to do something for me.
The problem is we’re hypocritical. We’d never want anyone to treat us that way, but we have no problem justifying our wicked motivation by arguing, “At least I was treating you well!”
Motivation is everything.
Without the right motivation, it’s doesn’t matter what we do. That’s why Samuel could say in I Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”
Wasn’t offering sacrifices obeying? Technically, God had commanded it. But all throughout the Old Testament we encounter God Who was frequently angered by the sacrifices of the people. And His anger always landed on the fact that the people’s hearts were far from Him.
They were doing the right things for all the wrong reasons.
In Hosea 6:6 we read, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
True love would sacrifice the right things in the right way. Selfish idolatry would could sacrifice the right things in the right way . . . but it would never be for the right reasons.
This is why we must come face to grimy face with our underlying motives. It not be pretty, but it’s necessary.
2. What’s the wrong motivation for church?
In an attempt to oversimplify, the wrong reason for church is a desire for what we’ll get out of it.
Of course, this very broad motivation has a thousand ways of fleshing itself out in our lives.
If you couldn’t tell, I started quoting from The Art of Manliness article for a couple of those.
Now, you may be thinking, “Aaron, what’s wrong with that? Sure, some of those sounded self-seeking, but how bad can it be to want to learn more about God and become more spiritual?”
The answer is going to require you to think outside the box a little and be super honest.
Any motivation an unsaved person can have is not the motivation a born again follower of God should have.
There are devotees to pagan religions all over the world who desperately want to be closer to their idea of god. There are people for more devout than you or I who turn their lives upside down to perform religious rites including — but not limited to — blowing up one’s self.
Any selfish motivation will immediately poison the most righteous actions.
If I go to church simply because I have a deep desire to know more about God, and I’ll be able to satisfy that longing sitting in the chairs of a church, then God is not going to be pleased with me because my motivation is completely selfish.
There are people in this world like the Pharisees who pridefully puffed themselves up because they were so “holy.” But there was no group Christ attacked more often than the Pharisees.
Destruction always arises from people doing “holy” things for selfish reasons. Every travesty ever committed in the name of religion stands as a witness to my words.
Can God use the misguided religiosity of sinful men? Definitely. Paul says that those who spread the Gospel for selfish gain are at least spreading the Gospel. And God used man’s sin to purchase our salvation.
He will ultimately be glorified despite us, but that won’t end well for us.
When we live selfishly, we’re worshipping at the altar of self. We’re idolaters. We’re spiritual adulterers. We’ve created another god in our own image.
From the Garden of Eden to the Flood to the first command of the 10 Commandments until the moment that death and Hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire, every punishment that has ever been meted out against sinful people has come as a result of mankind worshipping themselves instead of God.
Now, I can talk about this a hundred more times and it still may be confusing to some of you. And I guarantee that it will be confusing to your kids. Nearly everything they do is selfishly motivated. Until we’re born again, it’s impossible for us to do anything that’s not selfish.
It’s definitely something that spiritual maturity reveals to us over time.
So, let’s look at the other side of the coin in order to get the full picture.
3. What is the right motivation for church?
Well, the answer is simple, but it’s not easy.
It’s simple because it’s not complex. The only Christ-honoring motivation for assembling as a body of believers is to glorify God. He commands it; we do it. We should get together with other believers solely so that our Lord will be pleased by our obedience.
And — of course — that obedience is motivated out of nothing but selfless agape love. If that kind of love is new to you, then I encourage you to listen to our Four Family Loves series that started in episode 128.
Why would I want to assemble? Because God commands it. Why should I participate in the one-anothers? Because God desires it. What’s my motivation for loving Christians? God told me to. Why should I preach or teach or minister or serve? Because God would be pleased for me to do so.
The temptation for wrong motivations come because of the inherent blessing of obeying God.
God promises many, many blessings in the Bible if we obey. In fact, most of the promises in Scripture are conditional. They require us to obey.
So, it’s a tiny, and super-easy step for otherwise selfish individuals to want to do the right thing because of the blessing we’re receive!
Why wouldn’t I be a peacemaker? God said He’d call me a son of God! Why wouldn’t I obey my parents? God said it will be well with me, and I’ll live long on the earth?
It’s true that true obedience brings amazing and glorious promises. My favorite passage in the whole Bible is Philippians 4. The soul rest that’s promised in that passage is so glorious I did a nine-part Peaceful Parenting series!
But if I cross all my spiritual “t’s” and dot all of my religious “i’s” simply so that I can have peace, my motivation is self-serving, not God serving.
So, the idea is simple in that it’s not complex. We need to do right because God commands it.
But the application is difficult because we really do receive good things when we obey. That reality often tempts us to the wrong motivations.
Some people may ask, “Then why does God promise such good things? Why doesn’t He just tell us to do right?”
I would argue, it would be impossible for Him not to promise good things. He designed for life to work when we obey. Good things happen when people submit to God. In fact, Heaven will be Heaven because we’ll have no sin. We’ll be able to perfectly submit to Him. That’s why it will be a place of everlasting joy, peace, life, and sheer awesomeness! We’ll finally be living life the way God created.
And I promise you that there won’t be a single person in heaven who’s focused on being entertained while we worship God. Will it be amazing? Will we love it? Of course, but we won’t be doing it for the consequences.
There won’t be a single person in Heaven who worships the Lord in order to gain His favor or to simply build his repository of sacred knowledge. No one will perfectly fulling the Creation Mandate simply so that he can show off. Everything will be done for the glory and excellence and worship and praise of the only great God and our Father!
And that’s what we need to teach our kids to do. We need to teach them to want to go to church simply because God loves it when we obey.
So, that leads to our finally question of that day.
Now before I do that, I just want to take a moment to thank Matt and Sonja for making this episode and others like possible. Matt and Sonja are regular supporters of TLP. Their monthly gifts help make it possible for us to glorify God by ministering to families all over the world. Will you consider what the Lord may have you to do? You can learn more by clicking the link below, “5 Ways to Support TLP.”
Okay, . . .
4. How do we parent our children to have that motivation?
And that, my friends, is a hard question.
Here’s the best I can do for you.
First, God’s Word is abundantly clear that we can never parent well unless we ourselves are following Christ. We must be following Him before we can be the First Follower. We must be submitting to Him before we can be a good Ambassador Parent.
We need to want to go to church for the right reasons. Now, that’s not to say we don’t start teaching them until our motivation is perfect. That won’t happen this side of Heaven, but we definitely need to be moving in that direction unless we want our children merely learning from our hypocrisy.
Second, we need to teach our kids the lessons in I Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6. We can also use Isaiah 1:14, Amos 5:21, and Isaiah 61:8. All of those verses talk about the same thing . . . God hates worship that looks right on the outside, but is wrong on the inside.
Third, we need to remind our kids why we’re assembling. And, at first you’ll have to do this every time you head to church. I spent months asking my kids every Sunday, “Why do we go to church?”
And I think it’s high time I revisit that.
It’s so easy to forget such a simple Truth because it’s so easy to be sidetracked by what we’re going to get out of it.
Fourth, we need to ask God to help us obey for the right reasons. This should be one of the most reoccurring prayer request in your home. Everyone can pray it all the time. “Dear God, give us the strength we need to obey you for the right reasons.”
Fifth — this point will lead us into our topic for next time — we need to attend an assembly of believers who will encourage us to meet for God and not for us.
That also means we need to stop reading articles and listening to podcasts from people who encourage us to go to church for the wrong reasons. We need a body of believers who are doing their best by the power of God to meet for the only reason that matters.
If your pastor or fellow congregants are constantly motivating you to go to church for selfish, self-seeking reasons, then perhaps you need to start meeting with a new body of believers.
But — like I said — we’ll talk about that more next time.
Please take a minute to share this episode and check out our free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
Next time we’ll be discussing what kind of church is the best kind. That may sound super controversial, but my only goal is to answer that question from the Word of God, so I hope that excited you and that you’ll join me next time.
The church is an amazing and beautiful collection of redeemed saints who all desire to glorify God by building the church.
Don’t take that opportunity from your kids.
I’ll see you next time.
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