“Pastor, is it true that I will die because I stopped attending my former church? That’s what my former pastor told me, and I’ve been worried”
I honestly doubt that a pastor can say that to his member. The church is an institution for spiritual development; if you change church because your spiritual needs are not being met, then you have a justifiable reason. However, just so I don’t assume anything, let’s touch a few vital things.
Imagine for a moment that the children of Israel left Goshen and entered into Egypt during the famine, do you think the famine would have affected them?
Oh, you probably don’t know about that story. Though it’s a long story, but to grant some clarity, let’s read a few verses:
9. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:
10. And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:
11. And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
That was Joseph, sending for his father, Jacob, to come down to Egypt with the people of Israel and all that he had. He acknowledged that there was a great famine, but that he would put them in the land of Goshen where they will be well nourished. In other words, no matter what was affecting others, they would be well nourished if they stayed in Goshen. Genesis 47:27 confirms how nourished they were when it said “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly”.
The famine ended, and the Exodus began. Joseph had died, the king that had an agreement with Joseph had been replaced by several other kings. The new Pharoah didn’t care about them, he made them engage in very hard labour, day and night, which lasted for over 400 years. Yet, they were still in Goshen.
God finally decided to deliver Isreal out of Egypt. He called Moses, and mandated him to undertake that task. Of course, Pharaoh was obstinate, and he didn’t want to let them go. But he didn’t have a choice, Moses really tormented him and the Egyptians. Lets read a few verses:
23. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
24. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
25. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.
26. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.
Did you notice verse 26? “only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail”. There was thunderstorm which was dropping ice balls in the whole of Egypt, but Goshen was exempted.
Now back to our question, what if the people of Israel had left Goshen and entered into any other part of Egypt, do you think the afflictions in Egypt would have affected them?
Yes! Yes!! Definitely Yes!!! And that’s because God is place-conscious. He puts His people in safe places to exempt them from challenging times. Remember how the angels told Lot to move into a safe place when they were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Even in the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He guided them on where to move to in order to avoid the hard times. When Jesus was born, He told Joseph to relocate to a safe place, just to protect baby Jesus.
Even in famine, as long as you’re in your place, you’d still prosper. Isaac planned to move to Egypt when famine came into Canaan, but God told him not to move. And the bible tells us that Isaac sowed in the land of Canaan, and reaped a hundredfold the same year. The challenge many believers have is not the economic recession of these times, but their personal displacement. They don’t have a place. And until you find your place, you’d suffer the aches that come with displacement.
Obadiah 1:17 says “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions”. Mount Zion in the old testament is what we refer to “Church” in the new testament. And if I’d rewrite that scripture, it would read “But upon the Church shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possession”.
The church of Christ is God’s place of rescue from the challenges of this world. While the world may be like Egypt, the church is like Goshen; and no matter what is affecting the world, it’s not permitted to affect the church. When the world is feeling the heat of the times, the church should be enjoying peace and increase.
Although going to church keeps you in touch with God, Deut 12:13-14 makes it clear that “our offerings and worship seeds are not acceptable in every place”. God has a chosen place where every believer is expected to meet Him and worship Him. It’s in your place that you’d receive divine instructions on how to grow. Many Christians are not growing because they feel they can worship in every place. They go to a new church every Sunday, only to end up weaker. Let’s see how the scripture put it:
13. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
14. But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Only God can choose where your worship would be acceptable to Him. The only reason why God will accept your worship from a different place is if the place He has chosen is far from where you are per time. Deut 12:21 clearly states that “If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after”. In other words, you may worship in any place your heart desires to, but only if the chosen place is too far. But come to think of it, is it not better to worship where God has chosen than to worship where you desire to?
I live in Lagos-Nigeria, and the place that God has chosen for me to worship Him is in Ogun State – Nigeria. And that’s about an hour drive. Sometimes you have to spend longer hours on the road when there are delays or road blocks. But guess what? I go there every Sunday.
Having understood this, you’d realize that although God chooses a place of worship for us, but He can also change that place if we’re no longer getting the nourishment we get – just as He moved them from Goshen to Canaan. God is more interested in the prosperity of your soul than the place of worship. Perhaps you joined the church when the leadership was really good, but now they compromise their faith for material things. Or the pastor that attracted you to the church was moved or died, just as Joseph died, and the new leader doesn’t share the same vision. You can pray to God to direct you to another church.
In all, it’s important that you allow God direct you to where your worship will be acceptable to Him. Don’t make a decision in a hurry.
I hope this has brought enlightenment to someone.
Remain ever blessed, in Jesus precious name!