Our spiritual life is exactly that: it is meant to be lived. This involves a healthy diet of Scripture reading, social interaction, gathering with other followers, communal as well as personal prayer, and so on. Try abstaining from church and you’ll see what I mean.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
An Accidental Experiment
No, I didn’t not go to church just for the fun of it. There were plenty of reasons – many of them I made myself believe were valid – and they were enough to keep me away long enough to begin feeling the effects:
- Exhaustion. All of a sudden I grew tired and bored and exhausted with my life and with everything else that usually kept me motivated. There was a dark shadow of fruitlessness looming over everything and I couldn’t figure out why. I blamed it on the weather.
- Depression. I felt sad about everything – even though “everything” was generally happy and going great. In spite of constant little successes at work, at home, and everywhere else, I was consumed by a sadness I couldn’t drive away. I blamed it on hormones.
- Isolation. Of course it’s natural to feel isolated when you intentionally isolate yourself from other people. But with constant practice, it builds on itself and grows into a want for even more isolation and a need to become even more preoccupied with other things like hobbies and what have you. The dangerous part of it is that although it feels like you’re becoming more productive when you first begin, you eventually snap out of the trance and find yourself at the edge of an emotional cliff. You can blame it on introversion – if you’re an introvert yourself – but introvert or not, you can’t stay locked up in your cave forever.
A lot of people say that if you’re too busy to go to church, there’s always a huge treasure trove of sermons recorded online which are just as good. And for a time, I used to believe that, too.
But would you rather:
a. Have dinner with a friend
b. Have dinner with a framed photo of a friend
So what’s it gonna be?