“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10-13)

   Paul describes the Christian life as engaging in spiritual warfare.  One of the ways that we can most effectively put on or take up the whole armor of God is through the regular weekly worship of God with our local church family.  In fact, Pastor Daniel Darling states that going to church is an act of war, because “faithful, daily attendance at your local gospel-preaching church is important. It’s important for all the reasons we know: To hear the Word preached. To develop community in the body of Christ. To exercise your spiritual gifts. To support the gospel proclamation both local and international. To obey the Scriptures.

   Yes to all of these reasons for going to church. And also yes to the well-worn cliché, “You can go to church every week for your whole life and still be far from the Kingdom of God.” Yes, I’m still preaching that because it’s still true. Going to church won’t get you one yard closer to the pearly gates.

   And yet, the simple act of going to church–I’m assuming here a church who preaches the gospel and declares that Jesus Christ is King–is in and of itself a declaration of war. When your weary legs rise for another verse of the chorus and you offer praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you are saying, in effect, that the reigning prince of the power of the air, Satan (Eph. 2:2) is really not the King He thinks he is. There is another King, another Kingdom and it’s coming one day in its fullness and power. When you gather with your fellow believers and worship Christ, you are saying to the rest of the world that man is not ultimate. You are saying that the great movements of this world may have some power, but ultimately they are part of God’s gathering of history to Himself and for His kingdom. When you worship the risen Christ every Sunday at your church, you are telling the world that in your life, for this moment, Christ is ultimate. He is to be worshiped above all else. You’re making a statement that there is Someone deserving of more adulation and worship than the lesser things to which we pledge allegiance. You’re inviting them to ask you, “Why do you think the Kingdom of God is better than the Kingdom of man? What is it about Christ that gets you to roll out of bed, get dressed, get your family dressed, hop in the car, and go to church every single Sunday?

   Now I know you don’t feel like this on most Sundays. I don’t even feel like this and I’m a pastor. But that doesn’t make it less true. So go to church for all the reasons you should go to church, the ones we mentioned above. But also go to church so you can tell the world, by your actions, by your praise, by your not being somewhere else, that there is another King. And he’s worthy of your worship together with other citizens of His kingdom.”                                                                                               

   So this Sunday, think about that as you make the decision to go to church.  Engage in the battle, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand…to stand firm.”                                                                        -Pastor Chad