For better or worse, part of today's culture involves questioning every conventional tradition. From child rearing to law enforcement, from what we eat to how and what kids learn in school and even what constitutes being male and female. Everything is questioned. And for better or worse, justifications are easily made for breaking tried and true traditions. I'll say I personally find this aspect of culture to the level it's at today to be quite foolish. A culture that doesn't heed the wisdom and respect the traditions of its culture are doomed to either ruin their way of life or repeat the same mistakes that the traditions put in place mitigated.
And while there's many I could talk about, there's one in particular I wish to address today: The ever growing belief that a Christian does not need to go to church. Full disclosure: I used to believe that myself. In fact, it's because I did believe that and have turned away from the belief that I have some credibility when it comes to explaining why this belief is not only faulty, but it's the clever work of Satan that instills this belief in people.
Here's the argument: I'm a Christian and all I need to do is pray and believe. I don't need to go to church for God to hear me and bless me.
The argument isn't necessary false. Because yes, God will hear you and be with you wherever you are. And yes, God can do whatever He wants and can grant blessings on someone who chooses not to go to church. God has done this.
But, there's some problems with this line of thought...
First, we're to operate as the Body of Christ. One cannot operate as part of the body if they're not connecting with other parts of the body on a regular basis. How can a body part disconnected from a body still operate? God mandates that the Body of Christ extend His Kingdom throughout the entire world. So if one is disconnected from the body, how is one supposed to help extend His Kingdom as part of that body?
Second, God can bless anyone any way He wishes for anyone whether they deserve it or not. But despite that, keep in mind that the church, the Body of Christ, is God's primary vehicle for facilitating blessings and answering prayers. Yes, God could drop a new car in your driveway if He chose to. But it's more likely that your need, communicated through church and the Body of Christ, will be met by connections from within this body. But if you're not connecting with this body, then you're cutting yourself off from a plethora of benefits and blessings and essentially relying on God to help you win the blessing lottery. Again, blessings typically work through the church and its people.
Third, expecting God to deliver blessing while choosing not to be a part of the system He created and expects you to be a part of doesn't really indicate a willing, serving spirit. It's bending God to your will instead of His. I could sit and not eat and pray and expect that God will sustain me forever. However, in doing so, I'd be ignoring the provision of food he's provided me to keep up my physical strength. So in essence, instead of accepting God's gift of food to keep my physical strength up, I'm telling God he needs to heal my body and keep me from starving directly. The same thing can be said for someone who wishes to operate outside of the Body of Christ, but still expects God to bless them. It doesn't indicate the attitude we should have toward God.
And lastly, let's just call out the main reason for not going as it is: laziness. The challenge to the tradition of going to church, like many of our cultural challenges to tradition, really has nothing to do with being a more effective Christian (since usually challenges to tradition are aimed at making something better). Weekends are usually reserved for sleeping in and doing some type of fun recreational activity to balance out a possibly hectic work week. One of the last things anyone wants to do is have to get up on a Sunday morning and go to something "boring" that takes up a quarter of their weekend. This is especially true for those that have pretty active Saturdays. The desire to have at least one morning during the week where you can sleep in is quite compelling.
It's a choice we're presented with, that of choosing between indulging in personal comfort and sacrificing it to honor God. This is a choice we have to make all the time, yet if one cannot even sacrifice a morning of comfort for God, how do they expect to make the even harder choices? That's another value going to church adds: it trains you to sacrifice. And while we don't have to do animal sacrifices these days, theres plenty of things we do and like we must be willing to sacrifice for Him.
Believing you don't need to go to church because "your own personal relationship with Jesus doesn't demand it" is a deception straight from Hell to keep God's children in a complacent state of ineffectivenes that works against extending His Kingdom. Don't believe it. Get to a church and get yourself connected.