Another Look by David Faust
Christ arose, and so does church attendance on Easter Sunday. Most Sundays two-thirds of the residents of the United States and Canada sleep in and stay away, but on Easter millions of the slumbering majority get up—and even dress up—to go to a house of worship. Who will attend your church this week?
Doubters will be there—people like Thomas who haven’t observed the evidence of God’s power and goodness that others claim to see.
The disillusioned will be there. They’ve gone to church before—even gotten involved—but Christians let them down. Once burned, they hesitate to draw near the fire again.
The distrustful will be there with their guard up. Anything that smacks of insincerity or manipulation turns them off. They believe most Christians are hypocrites and suspect the church mainly wants their money.
The disappointed will be there. They prayed, but God didn’t answer as they hoped. They did the best they could as parents, but their kids broke their hearts. They tried to make marriage work, but were deeply wounded by an unfaithful spouse. They showed up for work every day, but lost their job.
The discouraged will be there. A middle-aged man fatigued by overwork. A white-haired woman who misses her husband who died a year ago. The fellow who got bad news from the doctor last week, and the woman who doesn’t know how she’s going to pay her rent next month. A pimple-faced 12-year-old boy will be there who wishes he had some friends at school. A couple will sit next to each other in church though at home they’ve been talking about divorce. Faithful churchgoers will be there who’ve been so busy serving the Lord they are on the verge of burnout. Weary ministers will preach upbeat sermons about joy and hope, while privately wishing they could figure out how to turn the crowd’s Easter faith into everyday faith.
Who will attend your church this week? The desperate will be there—the broken, the suicidal, the friendless, the ones desperately in need of someone’s love, the distressed souls for whom all hope seems gone.
And of this we can be sure: The dying will be there. Most of them seldom think about it, but they’re dying. Many will wear smiles and fashionable clothes, but they’re dying. They will join the congregation and sing “Alleluia” when they come to the chorus of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” They will shake hands with a greeter at the church door before going out for a family dinner. Then they will go to work on Monday morning and forget what the preacher said, because somehow the Bible and church just don’t seem to connect with the rest of their world. Nevertheless, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the most important message they could ever hear, because “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Who will attend your church today? Jesus will! His body isn’t decaying in a Middle Eastern tomb. His power didn’t vanish when he ascended into Heaven. His Spirit didn’t depart when the first century came to a close. After Jesus’ resurrection, his disciples saw him and worshiped him, and “some doubted.” But to doubtful, disillusioned, distrustful, disappointed, discouraged, desperate, dying people then and now, the risen Lord gave these words of hope: “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:17, 20).
At church today, pay attention to the people around you. Most of all, pay attention to the Lord in your midst. For the seeker, the servant, the skeptic, and the sad, the message is still the same: Christ is risen indeed.