It is always lovely to attend holiday services at church, such as Christmas and Easter. I always experience a special joy at being amongst the body of believers to worship, praise, and celebrate. However, I have heard it remarked how well-attended holiday Sundays are compared to every other Sunday, since churches are flooded by people who feel they should attend because it is a Christian holiday, or they need to fulfill a family expectation.
We are always glad if nonbelievers attend church, even if it is just for a holiday and even if it is only because they feel obligated to attend on those days. While it would be better if they regularly attended because they wanted to be there, we know that any interaction inside the church is an opportunity for spiritual restoration as the Gospel falls on their ears.
I think of attending church only on holidays as “checking the box” attendance. In showing up, people might feel they have checked that box and fulfilled that need until the next holiday. In such cases, we can pray their lives would be transformed and they would choose to attend church regularly as part of their walks.
As believers, though, it is important to examine our own walks and make sure we are also not having a checking the box type of Christianity. Sometimes we become so schedule or routine-driven, we may not even remember why we are doing something.
Are we checking the box when we:
God knows the conditions of our hearts, and we cannot fool Him about our intentions. Proverbs 21:2 tells us, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts.” When we act, He knows if we are acting in earnest desire or to check a box. He certainly knows the times I have checked a box. There have been times I read His Word in a hurry or did my reading late at night when I was tired, and I did not really focus on or understand what I was reading. I just wanted to make sure I got that reading done and checked that box.
Most believers have at one point or another checked a box. It can happen if we are overwhelmed by circumstances. This happens, especially for women, as we tend to juggle multiple responsibilities. All the same, it is important that God come first in our lives. When we focus on Him and ask Him to help us love and serve Him better, He can sustain us and help everything else fall into place.
We have been created by Him to glorify and worship Him. Isaiah 43:7 tells us, “Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
Knowing this, our desire is to do all to the glory of God, especially in our spiritual walks. He deserves more than half-hearted efforts in worshipping Him. When we examine ourselves, if we are merely box-checking, we can sincerely ask forgiveness from Him, knowing He is faithful to forgive, and then make adjustments.
Attending church, we desire to attend cheerfully and willingly, thankful for the opportunity to enter church freely in our country. If we serve at church, we serve with eager hearts and because we live to serve Him. Our goal is not to walk away from church thinking we are good for another week and then wondering what we will eat for lunch.
When we read our Bibles, do we thank God that we have His Word so that we may know Him? Do we thank Him that we can discern truth in a world of lies because He has given us truth in His Word? Do we approach His Word thoughtfully and with enthusiasm to know Him more? We need full engagement in our Bible reading, study, and devotionals. God’s Word is rich and gives life, and it is important to give it the attention it is due. In Deuteronomy 8:3, we understand, “…that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Approach His life-giving Word with intention and purpose.
How about when we pray? Do we pray before a meal to fulfill an obligation? Do we approach God in an automatic manner knowing we are supposed to pray? Or do we fall on our faces in front of the God who created and gave life to everything and sincerely give thanks that He, being mighty, holy, and sovereign, would listen so lovingly to our prayers? Do we thank Him that Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption makes this communication even possible? Do we pour ourselves out to Him and tell Him how much we love Him? Do we seek this communication with Him frequently throughout the day?
Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me, with all your heart.”
God is not merely suggesting prayer as an option. You cannot know someone without talking to him or her; you cannot find someone without searching. Communicate with God in earnest, sincere, frequent conversation.
I would challenge you to examine your walk and make sure you are not checking the box but rather pursuing Him with all your being. But if you feel like you have fallen into a box-checking cycle, talk to God about it, and seek how you can serve, worship, and communicate with Him with wholehearted devotion.
Jeanne-Marie Witmer, Daughter of the King, is a wife and a mother to a teenage son. She wants to encourage women to have meaningful relationships by first having a meaningful relationship with Jesus. Jeanne-Marie understands the transformative work of Christ when we repent and submit to Him so that He can work in our lives. She would like to share what she's learned to help other women find hope and healing in Christ, and she prays that her written words glorify God. When not busy homeschooling, spending time with family and friends, or writing; Jeanne-Marie enjoys photography and many crafts and hobbies.