"The Real Reason -- Not"
December 13, 2010
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" Psalm 122:1
Do you like being a Christian?
If so, I know the reason why. At least I know the reason that has been suggested by Doctors Lim and Putnam of Harvard University.
They say that "friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier." Their thinking is as follows:
1. If you go to church regularly, you probably will make some friends.
2. If you have friends, you probably are happier.
3. Folks who are happy with their church usually go to church more.
4. You go to church more you make more friends, etc., etc., etc.
Now I've got nothing against these doctors, and I most certainly don't dispute the fact that having many friends is superior to having few friends or no friends.
But (from what others tell me) you can go to the neighborhood bar, you know the place "where everybody knows your name," and make friends there. You can go to the local gambling establishment and you'll make friends and they'll serve you a pretty good meal for a pretty reasonable price.
No, there has to be another reason why people go to church.
Let's see, what could it be?
Might it be that there they receive forgiveness of sins, or they are given the Lord's Body and Blood, or they hear a Law-Gospel explanation of Scripture, or they are given an opportunity to praise the Lord ... or ...
Now, Dr. Lim is entitled to his opinions. He can say, "It is not really going to church and listening to sermons or praying that makes people happier" and he can maintain, "making church-based friends and building intimate social networks there" is more important.
He can believe what he wants, but I think fellowship with my Savior is the reason I'm glad when someone says to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."
I hope it's one of the reasons why you're glad too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, how hard the people of this world work at trying to explain the love You have for us and the thankfulness we feel toward You. If possible, send Your Holy Spirit to open the eyes of these folks so they may see Jesus their Savior. In His Name I pray it. Amen.
Many thanks to Mr. Ian Adnams, director of Communication for the Lutheran Church - Canada, for supplying the information about this story.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries