Have you ever been asked by a non-Christian friend or colleague: “Hey, what are you doing on the weekend?” You know very well that you will be attending church on Sunday, and yet, you respond with: “Oh nothing much mate”.
Now that’s a conversation that I have way too often and it really annoys me that I cannot simply say: “Oh, I’m going to church on Sunday. In fact, I always do!”
I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not share my Sunday endeavours because such endeavours are not popular in society. I recently heard someone at work say: “This is a secular society, and the church is no longer relevant”. In the eyes of my work colleagues, ‘going to church’ is not as enjoyable as a coastal walk or a day at the beach. As such, I choose not to share the fact that I will be ‘going to church’.
However, God’s Word has been teaching me that the church remains very relevant in society, and though ‘going to church’ may not be popular, it remains a weekend endeavour that I should proudly announce.
Irrelevance of the Gospel
It’s easy to look at newspaper headlines and think that the church is not really relevant. I mean, how is the church relevant in a world that is obsessed with entertainment and money, but marred by conflict and murder?
Well, the scriptures confirm the importance and relevance of the church within Christianity and also the world.
The place of the church in Christianity
I know there are various interpretations of the word ‘church’. However, the interpretation that I am alluding to is the gathering of Christians for corporate worship.
The church remains important in Christianity because it provides us (Christians) a tiny glimpse of the eternal church that will be established when Jesus returns (see Revelations, chapters 4 and 5). The songs of praise that we enjoy singing on Sunday, the sermons that were memorable, and the people that we enjoy hanging out with – all of these components of ‘church’ point us towards our final destiny and encourages us to live for Christ.
The place of the church in society
When Paul wrote to the “church of God in Corinth”, he wrote to a church located within a thriving city.
The city of Corinth was a cosmopolitan known for its thriving commerce, its diverse culture, and unfortunately, its widespread immorality. Paul said that the members of the Corinthian church had “plenty” of prosperity (2 Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 14) and “excelled in everything” (2 Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 7).
Paul’s letters helpfully depict the church’s location and mission within the everyday reality of secular society. He told the Corinthian church to be the community of Jesus Christ within Corinth, yet distant enough from the rest of Corinth to deny idols, to confess faith in the Lord, and to do deeds of service to others.
In some sense, Paul is commanding the Corinthian church to set itself apart from the commerce, culture and immorality that surround it, so that when the world is sick of such things, it could turn to those who have avoided such things and give praise to God. You can hear the excitement in Paul’s voice when he says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 13: “Because of the services by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else”.
Conversations about the weekend
I’m not sure what I will say the next time someone asks me about my weekend plans. However, I am confident that my Sunday endeavour of ‘going to church’ is important for two reasons. First, it’s important to me as it points me to Jesus and reminds me of the eternal church. Second, it’s important for society, as it represents a gathering of people who share in the hope of the Gospel – a message that is for all.
Jia Pan Xiao attends GracePoint Chinese Presbyterian Church and is an employment lawyer working in Sydney. In his spare time, Jia Pan enjoys watching American sports, drinking coffee and devouring chocolate mud-cake.
Jia Pan Xiao's previous articles may be viewed at