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  • Kelly Byrley

How Do I Come to Church?

By Kelly Byrley



 

Psalm 122:1,”I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

 

Coming to church to be spiritually fed is a lot like coming to the table to be physically fed. How we arrive determines how the meal goes for us so let’s look at a few of the different ways we can arrive.

 

Dirty – When I arrive at the table dirty, I am not ready to eat. I must first go and clean up. This takes time away from the meal. Everyone else is gathered and starting to eat, but I am over at the sink trying to wash off all the grime. I am missing out on some things. By the time I get back to the table, there isn’t as much food left and the food that is there is getting cold. Cold food isn’t as tasty, and it may even cause me to lose my appetite. I could be so long getting back to the table that I miss out on the main meal and only have time for dessert. While that’s certainly a sweet treat, it isn’t nutritious or sustaining. Even if I make it back to the table quickly, I still may not have time to finish my meal before it’s time to clean up. I can ask for a to-go container and eat it later, but it’s never the same as when it’s served hot and fresh.

 

Late – When I arrive at the table late, it’s not much different than arriving dirty. I am missing out on the same things listed above.

 

Famished – When I arrive at the table for dinner, but I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch then I am weak and famished when I arrive. I am starving when I sit down. I am so desperate that I just grab the food like a savage and gobble it all down. I do not properly chew the food and this can cause me to choke. It can also cause me to vomit it back up and not allow me to fully take it in and nourish my body. It can make digestion difficult. It can leave me bloated, not wanting to even look at any more food for a while. Or it can leave me sickly and still hungry when I leave. This could cause me to be tempted to eat any sort of food that comes my way whether it’s good or bad because I’m so hungry that I’ll eat anything. That cycle only gets worse the longer I put off eating all of my regular, nutritious meals. This can happen to me because I choose to skip meals, or I could be so busy working that I just don’t take the time to eat regularly. Either way, it’s not sustainable and leaves me very unstable.

 

Distracted – When I arrive at the table distracted, I am checking messages, social media accounts, emails, etc. I’m thinking of what bills I need to pay and worried about my to do list. I’m working on my shopping list or the fun things I have planned. I am not paying attention. It’s sort of similar to arriving dirty or late because I am missing out on some things. I am hearing, but I am not listening. I am eating, but I am not tasting. I don’t recall any of the details of the meal when it’s finished. I missed a bunch of stuff, and I have no idea what I ate, whether it was a healthy meal or an unhealthy dessert. I missed out on all the conversation. I know I was there, but that’s about it. I leave wondering what really happened even though I was there.


Nosy – When I arrive at the table nosy, I am worried about what everyone else is eating. I’m checking out everyone’s plate and adding to it the parts of the meal I think they need. I’m adding extra protein to the one who looks a little thin, some extra veggies to the one who looks a little tired, and I’m taking away the dessert from one who looks like they could lose a few pounds. I’m trying to force feed them the things that I think they need, and I never take the time to feed myself anything. When I leave, I’m exhausted from waiting on everyone else, and I’m hungry because I didn’t eat. Just like when I arrive famished, I am now at risk of eating whatever food comes my way because I’m so hungry. I’ve also upset others at the table by my behavior. 

 

Gorged – When I arrive at the table gorged, I am too full to even look at the food that is being offered. I’ve spent my day snacking on anything and everything that looked good but wasn't good for me. I’ve eaten all the wrong stuff and now that’s the only thing I want. A proper, nutritious, home-cooked meal doesn’t even whet my appetite any longer. I’m only interested in junk food. I am full, too full. But I am not sustained nor am I healthy, and all that junk food will only bring me major health problems down the road.

 

Hurried – When I arrive at the table hurried, I get annoyed by the amount of time it takes to sit down and have a proper meal. Most days I skip breakfast and grab a granola bar or a yogurt and consider it lunch. I’ve become accustomed to fast food burgers on the run for dinner because I’m so busy. I’ve decided that sitting down to eat a full meal just takes too long. My meals are sporadic, short, and lacking in substance. I’m unhealthy and just like when I am gorged, these poor food choices will lead to health problems in the future.

 

Hungry – When I arrive at the table hungry, I have a healthy appetite, but I am not starving. I have taken the time to eat breakfast and lunch so I am not famished or weak, but I am starting to get hungry because my body is on a schedule. I am looking forward to the meal and to the time spent with my family. 

I am healthy because I have properly nourished myself all day. I am grateful for the hands that prepared the meal and I compliment the chef. I savor and enjoy every bite taking the time to adequately chew and swallow it so I do not choke. My body digests it well. I even eat the things that are not my favorite items. I may not like them, and they may not taste that great, but I know they are good for me. The meal is balanced and complete.

Dessert at the end is a special treat and I leave feeling satisfied, but not gorged. I know that this meal will give me the energy that I need to perform the work I have been called to do. I leave looking forward to what is ahead. I anticipate returning to the table because I know the high quality and quantity of food that is served here.


So how can I avoid coming to the table as anything other than hungry? 

Here are a few reminders: 

Dirty - I need to come with a clean heart, already having confessed my sin so there is nothing between me and the Lord. Having to take time to cleanse my heart during the service will take away from some of the message. Watching a service later on YouTube or Facebook because I missed some of it is never the same as being there. (See Hebrews 10:22 and Isaiah 59:2.)

 

Late – I just need to be on time. If I am consistently 5-10 minutes late to church, then I just need to leave 5-10 minutes earlier. This means I need to get ready 5-10 minutes earlier. Which means I need to get up 5-10 minutes earlier. It’s truly that simple. (See II Corinthians 14:40 and Colossians 3:23.)

 

Famished – I cannot skip my walk with the Lord and expect church to be my sole source of spiritual nutrition. I also cannot be so busy in my ministries that I don’t take the time to spend time with the Lord. It’s easy for me to be so busy about the work of the Lord that I don’t even include the Lord in my work. This is a very dangerous place to be, whether or not I am in full time ministry. (See Psalm 107:5 and Jeremiah 31:25.)


Distracted – I need to put away my phone and my worries. I need to mentally unload and force the thoughts out of my mind that want to keep me from focusing on what is being said during the service. I need to be purposeful and deliberate in my attention and be ready to hear what the Lord has for me. (See II Corinthians 10:5 and Psalm 107:9.)

 

Nosy – I should not worry about how the message applies to anyone other than myself. I heard a preacher say recently if you want to know if I’m talking to you, the answer is yes! The Lord has something He wants ME to hear and that should be my only focus. (See II Corinthians 10:12 and I Thessalonians 4:11.)

 

Gorged – I cannot feast on the junk of this world or on watered-down Christianity and expect to be spiritually fed. If I am constantly filling my spiritual belly with feel-good preaching or messages telling me that I should be comfortable in my sin, then I am not going to have a spiritual appetite for rebuke. I will never grow, and the truth will become repulsive. I need spiritual meat to survive and grow in my Christian life. (See Proverbs 27:7 and Romans 15:13.) 

 

Hurried – I cannot listen to the watered-down message that says I only need to pray while I’m folding laundry or that I can spiritually sustain myself on a 5-minute devotional. That is foolish and too many ladies are falling for that nonsense! Of course I can meditate on Scripture and pray when I am doing mindless tasks like laundry and dishes, but I cannot grow spiritually on just that little bit of content. I must take the time to sit at Jesus’ feet every day. (See II Timothy 2:15 and Isaiah 26:9.)

 

**There are so many verses that could apply to the scenarios above, but I chose only a few for each.  However, I did want to add these additional verses that could apply to every one of the above scenarios:


James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Proverbs 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

I Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Psalm 27:8, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.”

 


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