Checking the Boxes?

This is a phrase that’s running rampant these days when it comes to talking about ‘church attendance.’  A generation is realizing that there is a problem with having rules that don’t produce the right results, and there is much back-lash against it.  You might wonder what I mean?

It seems to me that the Lord is moving people to something He has always wanted.  Abundant life!  And I don’t mean as just reflected in ‘church attendance.’  When the Lord says, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full,’ He is talking in the context of being the Shepherd to His sheep!  His desire for each one is that they know His voice, they follow Him, they are fed and cared for, they are protected from that which steals and destroys, and they live abundantly! (John 10:1-10)

Where there is a mentality of ‘checking the boxes’ as the standard for ‘life in the body,’ and yet there is a lack of abundant living, then there is a huge problem.  So, how is one to respond to that?  I’ve read several books recently that were highly recommended that kind of deal with this issue.  What stood out to me so much was the emphasis on living in the world like Christ really asks and wants us to.  It’s a compelling thing when lives are changed because they are learning to live out the gospel and have hearts changed towards the world around them.  I was encouraged to think about these things quite a bit.

But something else that really stood out to me was that in the realization of how Christ wanted them to live out each day in their perspective places, all of a sudden, the teaching of Christ on how He wanted them to live in relationship to His church got pushed to the side.  The classic pendulum swing.

So, I’ve been thinking.  Does God desire for us to just ‘check the boxes’ and have faithful church attendance?  Of course not!  Perhaps a better question is, “In what realms does God desire my faithfulness?”  We know faithfulness is such a beautiful part of His nature!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lam. 3:22,23

As His followers, we are to emulate His faithfulness – and certainly we see in scripture how that is to extend into all areas of our lives; in personal decisions, in our witness to the world, in the universal church, and in our local church.  We cannot respond to such an idea of ‘checking boxes’ by then also forgetting that, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Eph. 5:25).”  Or that upon salvation, He gives us gifts that He sovereignly chooses for us to possess for the benefit of the church (I Cor. 12, I Peter 4).  Or that, “He who isolates himself seeks his own gain (Prov. 18:1).”  It is very rare, if not impossible, that a person who has pulled away from fellowship of God’s people is actually doing it for the blessing of the body our out of faithfulness to Christ.

Why is it an acceptable thing to discipline your body when it comes to eating properly or beginning a new exercise regimen, but not to practice spiritual disciplines?  How does that become ‘legalism?’  If a person is not in the habit of being faithful, is it a bad thing to just decide that’s what he/she is going to do, until his/her heart is in the right place?  If a person is starving spiritually, is it best to stay away from God’s Word, when they so desperately need to be nourished by it’s life-giving words?  No!  They practice the spiritual discipline of being in God’s Word, they ask God to minister to them through it, and in so doing, they find ‘the times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord!’  There have been many times in my own walk with the Lord that I have struggled to want to be with God’s people.  At various times there were different reasons.  But I have never regretted the times when I pushed myself out the door and came away having been filled up with the fellowship of God’s people and His Word!

As parents, we make rules for the good of our children.  When they are young, they don’t often understand them, but we use them to instill good habits in them, and we trust that as they grow and mature, they eventually come to value and actually cherish the ideas for themselves, no longer seeing it as a rule, but understanding the importance of what was the intent and reason for it in the first place.  But, it is a sorrow if they never grow and mature beyond seeing the ‘rule’ to understanding and coming into the fullness of the heart of the matter.  That’s the problem I see with ‘checking the boxes.’ It’s completely the wrong focus!  We never taught our kids faithfulness to the local church as just going to ‘check the box!’  What an utter shame that would be!  But, we certainly want them to see and emulate the heart of Christ towards His church and towards the world!

I highly recommend this message that Scott recently shared on the importance of being both solid and abounding!

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God  who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9 

Your faithfulness endures to all generations;  you have established the earth, and it stands fast. Psalms 119:90  

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1 Comment

  • Suzi Flynn
    March 9, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    You are amazing. I love how you drove right to the point that extremes are not what bring the best outcome. Moderation is synonymous with self-discipline.


About us

Scott & Lynn DeGroff

Scott & Lynn DeGroff

We are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that have been married 22 years. Our joy and our ambition is to walk with the Lord and serve Him with our lives. Our son Daniel is married to the love of his life, Della. Our daughter Rebekah is a student at Liberty University. Our heart's desire is to see a generation reached for Christ and a bride of Christ that loves Him with all her heart.

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