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The Devil doesn't want you in Church on Sunday morning. He wants you to be anywhere else besides the place in which you have absolute forgiveness of all your sins. He wants you to be in a place where your flesh is pleased, where your ego is boosted, and where your self piety is encouraged. He wants you to enjoy the comfort of your bed, the confines of your couch, and the privacy of family time. He wants you to appreciate God's creation on the golf course, on a nature hike, or even just sitting outside on the back porch sipping coffee. In short, the devil wants you to be anywhere besides the place where the Gospel is proclaimed and the sacrament is distributed for your salvation.
However, the devil doesn't do much to make everything else look fun, relaxing, and exciting. Satan doesn't have to try hard to make abed comfortable or nature appealing. He doesn't have to work overtime, because our Old Adam is already at work desiring everything else besides Church. Because of this, the devil doesn't spend his time making the world look appealing, but rather making the church look unappealing. The devil takes the pure, unblemished Bride of Christ and drags her through the mud. The devil takes the haven of absolution and puts on the makeup of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. The devil takes the church, which is a bunch of sinners declared saints in the forgiveness of their sins, and makes it out like only holy people need apply. The devil makes the church look like something you have to do, a good work that you accomplish on Sunday morning. The devil makes church look like boring time where the pastor preaches a sermon that has nothing to do with your everyday life. The devil makes the church look like the last place you'd ever be caught on earth. So, the devil doesn't make the world more alluring, but instead he makes the church more off-putting. His work is done when we have no delight and joy in hearing the Gospel of Jesus the Christ and forgiving our fellowman his shortcomings.
Is Church a perfect place? No. Is everyone at church always loving each other and forgiving each other? No. Is church a place where everyone knows your deep dark secrets and loves you anyway? No. But guess what? This is why the Church exists, because sick people are in need of a physician and sinners are in need of a righteous Savior. Church exists because people are bad sinners who love themselves more than anyone else. Church exists because we all fail, are weak, and succumb to the devil's temptations. Church exists because we need to hear that Jesus loves us, that He died for us, rose for us, and comes to us in the means of grace to forgive us. So, what's the best solution to the devil's temptation to make church so off-putting you'd rather stay at home and sleep? TO go to church and be forgiven. To go to church with all others who are gathered by the Holy Spirit and receive the gifts that Christ Jesus purchased and won for you on the cross. Church is the best place to be because it is where Jesus is in His mercy for your justification. The only solution to the absolute problem of the devil's temptations is where Holy Absolution is found, from the mouth of the pastor as from Jesus Himself. The devil doesn't want you in church, but Jesus does so that He can forgive you all of your sins and weaknesses. What a great place to be, where peace and joy abound for you in the forgiveness of your sins.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.