Christian Living

Going to Church as an Act of High Treason3 min read

April 25, 2017 3 min read


Going to Church as an Act of High Treason3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Getting my family to church on Sunday morning sometimes feels like we are recreating the first 10 minutes of “Home Alone.”

There is nothing glamorous about it, even for a preacher’s family. After a sleepless night of babies crying, half-consciously fumbling for the coffee maker, showering, waking the kids up (who are finally deep asleep, conveniently), bathing the kids, getting dressed, getting the kids dressed, settling property disputes between the children, scouring the kitchen for something edible, reviewing Bible class and sermon notes, we’re just lucky to be alive at the end of the day. (My wife is an incredible woman for doing most of this so I can focus on the preacher stuff.)

I know it sounds crazy, but we do this every week. Willingly.

And, while it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of going to church, we need not forget the gravity of our mission. Going to church is a bold act of defiance toward the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).

You see, each time your tired legs stand for another stanza of praise toward the King of kings and Lord of lords, you are declaring that the ruler of this world is not the prince he claims to be (John 12:31). You are part of a new Kingdom, have a new King, and are anxiously awaiting His imminent return.

At the risk of sounding overdramatic, going to church is nothing short of treason against the state of this world (John 15:18-20).

We know there are consequences to this. The commands of God now take precedence over the will of man (Acts 5:29). While we know the governing authorities of this world still have some limited power (Rom. 13:1-7), we are now citizens of a new Kingdom (Phil. 3:20; 1 Pet. 2:9). And it isn’t always easy being an expatriate (Matt. 10:34-39).

Thus, when you bow your head in congregational prayer – when you underline a passage in your Bible during the lesson – when you drink the juice of the Lord’s Supper – when you drop your well-earned money in the collection plate – you are wholeheartedly declaring your allegiance to the Almighty God and your noncompliance to the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4).

I know there are other reasons we assemble with the saints throughout the week:

  • We go to encourage and be encouraged (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11; Heb. 3:13; Jas. 5:16).
  • We go because that’s what the early church did (Acts 2:42; 20:7).
  • We go for accountability (1 Pet. 5:1-4; Heb. 13:17).
  • We go to learn (Rom. 15:14).
  • We go to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26).
  • We go to contribute money to the Kingdom (1 Cor. 16:2).
  • We go because the local assembly of Christians is representative of the “living stones” of God’s temple, with God dwelling among Christians in a different way when they are assembled than when they are isolated (Matt. 18:20; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5a).
  • And we go to every regular assembly because that’s what we are commanded to do (Heb. 10:24-25).

But also go to church so you can tell the world – by your utter exhaustion (I’m talking to parents) – by your not being anywhere else (I’m talking to athletes) – by your dedication (I’m talking to those who must commute long distances) – by your courage (I’m talking to those who are mocked by their own family members) – that there is another King. And you love worshipping Him alongside the other citizens of His kingdom.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.

Ben Giselbach is the pulpit minister at the East Side church of Christ in Cleveland, TN. He and his wife Hannah have three children, Ezra, Colleyanna, and Eliza Jane. Ben is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and has returned to pursue his MDiv. He has written three books in his You Are A Theologian Series (Thinking Right about the Bible, Thinking Right about God, and Thinking Right about Salvation) and co-authored It's There In Black and White: 37 Questions about Racial Tension in the Church.
  1. Luke

    Amen! And I would add that anytime we oppose evil in any form (denouncing abortion, standing up for someone being oppressed, condemning a racist joke that we hear, etc.), we are similarly opposing the ruler of this world. I think this realization is a vital means of motivation as we seek to live in the world as Jesus calls us to: a life of faithful discipleship is lived in direct opposition to the work of Satan himself.

  2. Glenn Ziegler

    Bold words. *So, Ben, how far do YOU take this? *Do you still Pledge Allegiance To The Flag? *What do YOU teach YOUR kids about that? *Do YOU salute the flag during the Star Spangled Banner with hand over heart? *Do YOU honor soldiers more than missionaries and Bible Teachers? *How real is YOUR citizenship in heaven? *Does the rubber ever meet the road?

  3. Ivy

    I feel so encouraged! Thanks bro Ben.

  4. Pamela Carlile

    This is a very good message. I enjoyed it and I fully agree.

  5. Amanda DIxon

    I keep seeing "go to church" in a lot of articles by members of the church. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the word church means the body of Christ. We are His church (body) We are added to the church (body). We are the church (body) of Christ. So would it not be incorrect to use as it is used in your article? (*But also go to church (body) so you can tell the world ?) How can we say, would you like to go to body (church) with me? I feel as though we use this word like others in the denominational world. I'm afraid we are going to confuse people by the incorrect way we use this word. For example:Going to church (body), I want to invite you to (body) church, he came to church (body) and so on. I think we could easily say, going to the services of the church, or invite someone to Worship or Bible study. We teach our children in Bible classes, and stress that the church is not the building it's the people. Yet, that is not how we use it in a sentence. I feel the church as a whole has become very lax in the way we use/misuse this word. Maybe it's no big deal or maybe I'm just being nitpicky Again, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    • Ben

      Hey Amanda, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your dedication to making sure we talk about Bible things in Bible ways. You are right in that the church is not a building; it is the people. But, more specifically, the church is the assembly of people.

      The New Testament Greek word for “church” is ekklesia, which literally means “assembly.” Sometimes we use the words “church” and “congregation” (people who have congregated) interchangeably because both refer to the assembling of people together. (By implication, if Christians consider themselves to be the “church,” but neglect to assemble together, then they are not really the church.)

      The English word “church” comes from the Old English cirice, which in turn comes from the Late Greek word kyriakon, and as early as the 4th century (as some have observed) was used to refer to the appointed place of Christian assembly.

      Some have tried to make an issue out of this. But language allows us flexibility to use the word “church” in either sense. We can “go to church” in order to “be the church.” In fact, in order to “be the church,” you must regularly “go to church.” In the New Testament, “church” (ekklesia) is used in a similarly flexible way. In Colossians 1:18, ekklesia is used to refer to the universal body of Christ, yet in 1 Corinthians 11:18 ekklesia is used to refer to the local Sunday assembly. For that reason, we have New Testament license to use the phrase "go to church" if we mean "go to the appointed place of assembly for the local body of Christians." We are still correct in making a distinction between the "church" and the "church building," but the phrase "go to church" is a legitimate term.Let’s not make an issue out of using the phrase “go to church” when it is technically the correct usage of the phrase, even if just in a colloquial sense. There are indeed real issues in the world that should consume our attention.

      • Jonathan Medley

        That should be an article in and of itself. I've never heard it explained that way. Great insight!

      • Dani

        Thanks Bro. Ben for clarifying. What a great article.

    • Dani

      You make a good point, my husband and I use the term going to worship over going to church. People in the world do get confused thinking church means a building when we are the church, a body of believers.

  6. weshansonblog

    You have heard it said, "But I'm exhausted Wednesday evening after work... and the kids' activities... and it's just so difficult getting everyone ready... and Sunday night is our 'family time' and, and, and...." That's exactly the reason you should increase engagement with the Church. No one disagrees with the value or difficulty of those other things; family is important, work is important. They are valuable and necessary and they are also obstacles to managing both our time and our energy. That's precisely why when we choose to manage both, giving the highest priority to kingdom involvement, there is no clearer statement of sincere faith, to our kids, to our community, to our King. An empty chair previously occupied, whether intended as such or not, is a passive statement of infectious discouragement and downgraded kingdom priority. It declares, "I have more important things to use my time and energy on than to engage with other kingdom seekers." Those who say, "But I do other spiritual activities instead of attending," should remember Jesus' words to the Pharisees, "You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone."

  7. Brenda

    I think this is my favorite article by you Ben! Oh, what wonderful services we would have if we could get our own brothers and sisters to feel this way about worship. Our Bible classes would be full and our voices would fill the building with praise! But this attitude is now rare and our church buildings are emptying out. ? Keep telling it brother!

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