Attending church doesn’t make one a Christian, anymore than celebrating Christmas or Easter. I should know. From 6th grade until my high school graduation, I attended a private school in Hawaii. It was founded by the Episcopalian church and there was a mandatory weekly chapel service for the entire school every Tuesday morning. For nearly twenty minutes, I obediently sang a hymn accompanied by an organ, listened to a short sermon, and uttered a perfunctory prayer. Then it was off to classes. Only rarely did I ever focus upon the meaning or message of the service. My thoughts were usually on an upcoming test or some girl that I wanted to meet.
In fact, attending these chapel services did more to turn me off to Christianity and turn me toward atheism. I was disillusioned by the mechanical and ceremonial trappings of the service. I could not identify with the liturgical mutterings of the priests. The hymns were trite and staid. The sermons were pedantic and boring. Christianity was the antithesis of what I thought life should be.
But a few years later in my sophomore year in college, God reintroduced Himself to me. He would show me that Christianity is not a religion, a series of rote memorizations and do’s and don’ts. It is not an accumulation of good works and good behavior, earning enough brownie points in my ledger of life to offset my bad works. No. Christianity is a relationship with the living God, Jesus Christ.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
God was patient with me and always placed me in the pathway of His grace. He gave me many chances, seven years of middle school and high school chapel services to learn about Him. His patience allowed me to meet a man in college who modeled a life that was abundantly fulfilled in his relationship with Jesus Christ. I saw that Christianity was more than hymns, reciting school prayers, and something that I needed to earn. It was a relationship with God and I knew that I needed this relationship. I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Thanks be to the mercy and grace of our Living God, Jesus Christ! He was patient with me and broke through weekly chapel services, man-made rituals, and my arrogance to bring me into a relationship as a child of the living God!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.