Garage Theology

We were on vacation recently and as we were preparing to leave the hotel we were in one Sunday morning, I caught a TV sermon from author/evangelist Joyce Meyer. She was making the point that sitting in church every Sunday morning doesn’t make you a Christ-follower anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car. Her analogy reminded me of a passage from the Book of James. The half-brother of Jesus spends most of his letter to churches being very blunt on what a godly life should like look, and this topic is no exception:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:22-27 (NIV)

That how we live Monday through Saturday is the true barometer of our acceptance of Christ into our lives is both Meyer’s and James’ point. Yet, Meyer’s analogy got me thinking. Garages are important. They protect the vehicles and other items inside them. Being part of a church body doesn’t make us Christ-followers but, like a garage, it does offer protection.

The love, encouragement and support of other members of the church body are all crucial to our spiritual growth. When we have accepted Christ into our lives, we become wired to be with other Christ-followers. This is why Meyer is 100% correct when she says believers can’t just sit in church the way cars sit in garages. Garages don’t make cars and churches don’t make Christians. But both structures play a vital role, nonetheless.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. James 10:24-25 (NIV)

We don’t have a garage in which to store our church van. I happened to look at a picture of the van from last summer recently and it was clear that a harsh winter took its toll. There was a lot more rust. I couldn’t notice the difference without looking back because the damage accumulated gradually. The same thing can happen to our spiritual lives when we choose to park too often outside the church.

Church attendance isn’t about following the rules. And it’s not a sure ticket to heaven. It is a safe haven from the elements of the outside world that can erode and rust our heart for Jesus. Come for the comfort of being with other believers and stay for Jesus!

— Pastor Jerry Bader, Samaritan’s Heart Mission Church

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