“We walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
Economists describe the cost of any choice we make as “opportunity cost”, or the loss of an opportunity to do something different with whatever time or resources we committed to a particular choice. If I spend a dollar on a candy bar, the cost of the candy bar is whatever else I could have spent the dollar on. If I spend an hour watching television, even if it is free there is still a cost- namely, whatever else I could have spent the hour on.
Coming to worship always incurs a cost- the cost of sleeping in on Sunday or going to the park with your kids or whatever else might bring you short-term enjoyment. Worship itself might bring you short-term enjoyment as well- seeing friends, enjoying good music and a hopefully engaging sermon. But there are always pressing needs or more immediately enjoyable activities. That’s why God made it a commandment to observe the Sabbath. Left to ourselves, people will always allow other things to crowd out the worship of God. We do not observe a day in the same ceremonial fashion as the Jews under the Mosaic Law did, but the principle has not changed. We must make time for the worship of God.
When we gather together on Sunday for worship, we are committing an act of faith. Faith means trust, believing in God’s word and promises that He is who He says He is and will do what He promises to do. Worship is a means of grace, the way God works great benefits in His people through the power of His Spirit, but those benefits are subtle and long-term. Often they are not clearly visible in the short term.
The short term benefits of worship mentioned above, while real, should not be our main motivators for being in worship. If short term benefit is our motive, our sinful flesh will always find other things to tempt us. Our real motive should be faith, trust that God will work His work in us over time. We should “desire the pure milk of the word, that we may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2). We should desire to be taught and exhorted by the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Colossians 3:16). We should desire to “stir up love and good works” in each other (Hebrews 10:24). When we are motivated by trust in God’s promises, then we will be faithful in church even when we don’t feel like it, even if we’re not getting along with others, even if there are other things we’d rather do. Motivated by faith, walking not by what we can see but what we can and must believe, we will learn to attend consistently to the means of grace and have confidence that we will grow in grace as a result.