Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

Luke 3:8 (NIV)

I love my pastor. He’s an awesome man of God, and he’s funny too. He cares a lot about his flock and wants to make sure everyone under his care goes to Heaven. When I read this verse today from Luke about John the Baptist and his response to all of the people coming to be baptized I thought of something I’ve heard my pastor say about going to church, “Going to church doesn’t mean you’re saved any more than standing in a garage makes you a Buick.” I think there are two types of people who go to church. People who want to be there and people who don’t. I wonder then, why do people go to church if they don’t want to be there?

God draws people to Him in the easiest way they’ll come. While some people might need great traumas and tragedies in their lives to bring them to God other people drop onto their knees the first time they hear the Gospel. I, without a doubt, am not in the latter category. Like little kids who will tell you their parents made them go to church, I went to church to please my wife. People go to church for many reasons and that was mine. I wasn’t interested in being “born again” and gave anyone who tried to convince me otherwise a hard time. I think that’s one reason why I believe people ought to tell other people their testimonies and leave the saving up to the Lord. Now, if the Lord directs you to sermonize then, by all means, do what God has told you to do! However, if you’re not an evangelist and you don’t know the Bible you could possibly cause more harm than good if you try and start telling people, “What the Bible says” when it’s not God’s idea.

In trying to answer this question, “Why do people go to church if they don’t want to be there?” I think it’s important to look at why John told the people to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” When someone sincerely gives their life to Christ they become a new creation, the new has come and the old has gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). This doesn’t mean the new person is going to turn from sin and never sin again. However, it does mean they are delivered from a lifestyle of sin. I’ve known of people who were addicted to drugs, were saved, and immediately all desire to continue using that drug disappeared. I also know of people who earnestly desired God to deliver them from drugs and were delivered over time. A hard lesson we can learn though is that just because we’ve been delivered from something it doesn’t mean we’ll stay delivered if we choose to go back to it. God showed it to me like this. I can break my arm and God can heal it but I can still break my arm again.

I believe the “fruit” John was talking about is a behavioral change. When we change our behavior we’re demonstrating that we no longer want to live as we once did before we were born again. The “new” that has come is a new spirit that now has access to the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ. Therefore, we can choose to listen to the Holy Spirit and abide in the mind of Christ or we cannot. Before we were saved we didn’t have that choice.

When I think about why people are in the church if they don’t want to be there I don’t think it matters to God. In my case, it was my love for my wife that brought me to church and because of that love, I was able to hear the word of God, accept it, and be saved. Although I laugh when my pastor compares going to church to a Buick there’s really nothing to laugh about. Our action of going to church isn’t what makes us saved. It’s our faith in Jesus Christ.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.