Billy Graham on Why Its OK to Skip Church

It’s a pretty popular Christian blog topic these days to discuss the importance of attending church physically for the sake of communion with believers and collective worship.

In the era of all-things-streaming, we all know how easy it is to slip into the comfort of watching church online from our computer screens or TVs. I mean why get all dressed up and force yourself through that awkward meet-and-greet session with other humans, when a bed-head appropriate service in your PJs is just the click of a button away?

The Sunday struggle is REAL—for me at least.

But what do you do when it’s physically hard to attend or be active in your church? Is that a legitimate excuse, or does God expect you to ‘suck it up’ and participate in the sufferings of Christ by making it to your spot in pew three?

As always, Billy Graham had a response chock-full of wisdom when a concerned man wrote him a letter regarding this very topic.

As Kathie Lee Gifford elaborated on yesterday in her tribute to the late evangelist, Graham was a man who took redemption as seriously as he did sin and grace as seriously as he took justice; and thus, he was never one to lead through blaming or guilt-shaming—and certainly not a legalist who thought missing a Sunday service would land you in the lake of fire.

This preaching style bled through in Graham’s response to a man named R.L. who asked, “Is it wrong from me to just watch our church’s service on TV?”

While of course not an advocate of forgoing church altogether for any flimsy excuse, Graham graciously replied that they are times (such as this one) where it is okay to skip church, without feeling guilt-stricken.

He also shared some advice on what people in R.L.’s situation can do under these circumstances to still remain grounded in the faith and connected to the body of believers.

Read what he had to say below: 

“DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’m older and not in very good health, and it’s getting harder and harder for me to get around. Is it wrong for me to just watch our church’s service on TV? I miss seeing my friends, but it’s very difficult for me to make it to church now, especially since I gave up driving. — R.L.

DEAR R.L.: God knows your limitations, and he doesn’t look down on you because you can’t do everything you once did. (Incidentally, I commend you for realizing it was no longer wise for you to continue driving. I’m sure it was a difficult decision, but it was the right one. and one we’ll all face eventually.)

Be thankful, however, that you aren’t completely cut off from your church but that you’re still able to worship with them through television and hear God’s word as it is preached. Remember, God’s word is not limited by distance or confined only to a building. As the Bible says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword … it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

At the same time, I urge you to do whatever you can to maintain contact with your church. Drop your pastor a note, explaining why you don’t attend as often as you once did, and saying you’d welcome a visit. In addition, stay in contact with your friends in the congregation and let them know you’re praying for them.

Finally, turn your heart and mind to Christ and the hope we have of heaven because of him. Sometimes, I’m afraid, older people become overly absorbed with their present problems. Don’t let this happen to you, but “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1).”

Source: The Kansas City Star

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