One reason that Christians need to be part of a church too often goes unmentioned.
I need the church in order to be prepared for the Day of Judgment!
It is frightening to think that I would allow myself to be the sole judge of my spiritual condition here on earth. I know how easily I deceive myself. Am I so bold as to say I am the best judge of my spiritual character? No… I need the church to affirm my faith in Christ, to assure me when I doubt, and to lovingly rebuke me when I err. Judgment day is coming!
Have you ever noticed that older people tend be more faithful to church than young people? This isn’t true everywhere, of course. But even in multi-generational churches, it’s often the older people who are the most faithful.
There may be a variety of reasons for this fact, but I think one reason is clear: people who are older know that the Day of the Lord is drawing near. Either Jesus will soon come back, or they will soon go see Jesus. And the closer you get to the end of your life, the more likely a Christian is going to realize the seriousness of walking with Christ.
Why is that so many people showed up at church after September 11?
Why is the youth group room filled whenever a young person is killed in a car crash?
Because, for a moment, we are shaken out of our slumber. The brevity of life hits us hard. We realize that life is short and that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. If you live for Christ well, you will die with him well. One aspect of the Christian life is preparation for dying well.
One of the benefits of answering the summons of King Jesus to gather with the church – to be shaped by our confession and our practices, to be strengthened by the Body of Christ – is that it prepares you to be the kind of person who can face death boldly. You are shaped into someone who can deal with death.
When your wife has the sudden car crash, when your child dies of swine flu, when you get the bad diagnosis… The Christian can boldly look death in the eye and say, “You’re an enemy of God’s good creation. I’ll fight you with every fiber of my being. But even if I succumb to the cold clutches of death, I know that you are defeated. Your sting is gone. I will soon be with my Savior who has conquered you, and even my grave will one day release my glorified body.” And it’s your fellow church members who will minister to you, comfort you, cry with you, and – eventually – mourn your death and rejoice over your life.