One can ask people why they are a part of the religious institution of which they are a part and receive various answers. Some would say, “because I live close to a congregation of that denomination”. Others will say, “they have such good programs for the children”. Still others will answer with the statement, “because that is the church in which I was brought up”. And still others will say, “because I like what they say and do”. Let us consider each of these reasons and determine if they are good reasons for choosing a church.
First, those that say, “because I live close to a congregation of that denomination”. In such a case one is putting convenience above conviction. When the ten northern tribes rebelled against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, as king, they chose Jeroboam as their king. But, Jeroboam began to realize that if the people went back to Jerusalem to worship as God had commanded, they would turn back to their convictions. He “said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David” ( I Kings 12:26). His solution; “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (I Kings 12:27). The ten tribes then had a choice to make; to worship according to conviction or to worship according to convience. They chose convience and “this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan” (I Kings 12:30). In the eighth chapter of the book of Acts we read of an Ethiopian who had traveled by chariot from Ethiopia to Jerusalem “for to worship” (Acts 8:27). There was certainly nothing convenient about his choice, but conviction dictated that he make the trip. Surely in our society where we travel so easily and quickly, one would not allow such a thing as convenience get in the way of serving God with conviction.
Then there are those who say, “they have such good programs for the children”. Though it is very important that we put forth great effort to raise our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, it is also true that it is not the churches job to entertain our children for us. In fact, it is not the job of the church to entertain the young or the old. And, if one is to bring a child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it will require that all that is said and done in the church will be in harmony with the word of the Lord. Thus, it is the responsibility of the parents to determine the right church that they may bring their children up in harmony with the will of the Lord.
Thirdly, we have those who say, “it is the church in which I was brought up”. Tradition is the word that can be used here. It is easy to be captured in the snare of tradition because one gets the idea that if they withdraw from the traditional church and go to some other, they have in effect said that their parents or grandparents were wrong. However, one might consider that if tradition made a church or religion right, Saul of Tarsus would never have been the apostle Paul. He told the Galatians, “And profited in the Jew’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my father” (Galatians 1:14). What one’s parents or grandparents did or did not do has nothing to do with our own salvation. The prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).
And then there are those who say, “I like what they say and do”. The fact of the matter is, it does not matter what we like or dislike, but what God likes or dislikes. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He also said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Solomon said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
All of the above answers fall short of being the answer that one ought to have to the question of why they are what they are religiously. The only correct answer is, “because it’s teachings and practices are in absolute harmony with the word of God”. This is true because of the fact that in the last day, we will be judged by that word. Jesus said, He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul wrote, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16). As the Bible closes, John wrote, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 10:12).
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