Tag Archives: hope

Church bores me. Why should I go?

Friend, you are not the only one who feels bored at church. One Sunday, a young guy named Eutychus gathered with other Jesus-followers in a home, which was their custom at the time. Paul was there that day to teach. He was smart, but not a great speaker,[1] and he talked … and talked … and talked until midnight. Eutychus listened while sitting on the windowsill of a third-story room. At one point he couldn’t keep his eyes open. He fell asleep and fell out the window. He died when he hit the ground.

Before you draw assumptions, the moral of this story isn’t “pay attention in church or else!” The story isn’t over.

Everyone rushed downstairs. Paul took the young man’s dead body into his arms and said, “Don’t worry, he’s alive!” And Eutychus was fine. Someone took him home to rest; everyone else went back upstairs and listened to Paul teach until dawn.

Let’s review: Paul preached a really long time, Eutychus fell asleep and tumbled from a third-story window and died, and Eutychus was miraculously raised from the dead.

So why go to church even though it can be boring at times? In church, we get to see people come alive again. We get to see a man, deadened by addiction, reborn. We get to see a woman’s life-taking emotional wounds heal into scars. We get to see relationships and people come alive in the power of Jesus.

Church is a community of the resurrected. Paul said, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”[2]

It’s okay to be bored in church sometimes. God won’t strike you with a lightning bolt or throw you out a window. At times you’ll be tired or will find the sermon uninteresting. In those moments, remind yourself why you’re there. Church isn’t an event — it’s a group of people who reveal where God is bringing life to the world and how we can be part of it.

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t see signs of life at my church. I don’t feel resurrected. The church people I know act like zombies.” Well, even zombies are the reanimated dead, right? Some people still have a long way to go to become more like Jesus — we all do. Show some grace. Help people along. Be the person that you needed during your spiritually dark times. Realize that you’re in church not just for yourself, but for others. As Anne Lamott says, you attend church to take in new life and offer it to others.

[1] 2 Corinthians 11:6

[2] Colossians 2:13-14

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Isn’t a Lack of Deliverance from Sickness or Harm a Sign of Deficient Faith?

It would be a serious mistake to imply that deficient faith accounts for all instances in which a person does not receive healing or deliverance.

It’s true that Scripture tells of people who were healed or delivered from danger because of their faith. Some examples are Gideon ( Judges 7:15-23 ); Naaman the Syrian ( 2 Kings 5:14-15 ); Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego ( Daniel 3:19-29 ); the centurion’s servant ( Matthew 8:13 ); the woman with an issue of blood ( Matthew 9:20-22 ); the man with a withered hand ( Matthew 12:9-13 ); and Peter’s deliverance from prison ( Acts 12:5-12 ). Even this partial list is impressive.

Clearly, faith in God may result in healing and deliverance. However, the Scriptures also show us just as clearly that there are times when a believer’s suffering or sickness has nothing to do with a lack of faith.

When Job lost his family, wealth, and physical health, his friends “comforted” him with the message that his loss and suffering were due to his own moral failure (his lack of faith). But Job was confident in his integrity before God. God Himself had declared him perfect and upright ( Job 1:8 ). Later, God Himself denied the explanation that Job’s “counselors” gave for his suffering ( Job 13:1-15 ). Even more importantly, God Himself denounced their words ( Job 42:7-8 ).

Job’s faith wasn’t the problem. In fact, Job’s faith in God was so strong that he, without cursing or disrespect, defended his integrity to God and questioned Him about the injustice of his suffering. Yet, in the midst of his agony, he continued to trust:

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him (Job 13:15-16).

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27).

Job’s faith was eventually rewarded and vindicated. But he wasn’t spared the terrible suffering that allowed his faith to be tested and proven.

Even at a time when miracles often occurred, God allowed Stephen to be stoned ( Acts 7:59-60 ) and James to be beheaded. Although Acts 12 tells of Peter’s supernatural deliverance from captivity in prison, Jesus had already prophesied that he would eventually die a martyr’s death ( John 21:17-19 ), as (according to tradition) did all of the other disciples except John.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 Paul eloquently described the suffering and trials from which he hadn’t been delivered. He also suffered from a particular “thorn in the flesh” ( 2 Corinthians 12:7, 10 ) for which God had not provided a remedy. When Timothy suffered from a stomach ailment, Paul didn’t exhort him to have greater faith. Instead he told him to take some wine as medicine ( 1 Timothy 5:23 ). There isn’t the slightest hint in these passages that Paul’s trials and Timothy’s sickness were the product of unconfessed sin or deficient faith. In fact, rather than proclaiming that our faith in Christ should deliver us from the suffering and trials of this world, Paul extols the spiritual benefits of suffering.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance [produces] character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:3-5).

James also made it clear that strong faith is no insurance against suffering:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

On the basis of Scripture, we can say that faith is always relevant to suffering. Our reaction to suffering — whether in faith or in despair — determines whether it will produce spiritual growth or despair. But because spiritual healing is more important to us than our physical circumstances, faith is not a barrier against suffering.

Whenever we are inclined to presume that the illness or suffering of another person is the result of that person’s sin, we should recall the foolishness of Job’s “counselors” in attempting to explain the mystery of God’s will. Although faith won’t always deliver us from tribulation, it will keep us conscious of God’s promises and of the assurance that He will work everything out to good of His children ( Romans 8:28 ).

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