Do I Have To Go To Church In Order To Be A Good Person?

Eric Dougherty

Recently, I overheard a religious discussion among several people. Toward the end of their talk, one said, “I will pray for you. I want you to go to church.”

The other person responded, “I don’t need to go to church to be a good person.” 

What a profound statement. Is this true? It is not a simple answer because we could say both “Yes” and “No.”

First, let’s think of the word, “good.” When Jesus was referred to as good, what was His response? “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone,” Matthew 10:18. He was trying to make a point about the glory and awesome nature of the Father. He was not denying His own goodness, but rather making a connection between goodness and the Father and the Son.

Now if we are using our common definition of being good, then the answer is: “No, a person does not have to go to church to be good.” We can say this because there are good people, kind people, nice people, and happy people who are the way they are and do not go to church or have anything to do with religion. According to human standards, a person could be of any religion or even an atheist and still be considered “good.”

However, what if we rephrased the question, and, instead of focusing on the word “good,” we focused on the phrase, “pleasing to God.” Is the following statement true or false? “I do not have to go to church to be pleasing to God.”

This statement would of course be false, because God indeed wants His people to gather regularly to worship Him and have fellowship with one another.

However, before we can even encourage someone to gather to worship, we must make sure we are in the right relationship with God in order to worship Him. Remember, even the best behaved person has sinned and in doing so has severed himself from God. Put another way, good people are not saved by their own goodness. People are saved through an obedient faith in Jesus Christ. God’s plan to reunite man and God is the gospel of Christ. 

To get into a relationship with God, a person must believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died and rose again. By placing our faith in Christ, repenting of sins, and being baptized in the name of Jesus, one can then know God and so be saved, having the hope of eternal life.

Following the act of becoming a Christian, if a person then wants to know if he or she needs to worship on Sunday and meet regularly with the people of God, the answer is an absolute, “Yes!” “… not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25. -1634 New Bern St., Newport, NC 28570.

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