“Oh, I don’t go to church. I just worship God by going outside in nature.”
I hear that on a regular basis when talking to people about faith. Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. After all, as long as you believe in God that’s all that matters, right?
There are many people who lull themselves into a false sense of comfort with such beliefs. Can nature declare God’s majesty? Yes, to a degree. We look at the mountains, the forests, waterfalls, meadows, beautiful sunsets and starry nights and we marvel at the power and wonder of God.
Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans 1:20
Yet, for those who say that they only need nature, they are missing the greatest aspect of God’s nature – his love for us in Jesus.
When you look at the mountains, do you they declare Jesus to you? When you hear the breeze over the meadow does it whisper to you that you are a sinner in need of a savior? When you look at the trees do you see the wood which was used for a cross upon which he died for us? When you touch the ground do you touch his blood that was shed for you so that you might be forgiven? When you see the sunrise, does it declare to you a risen Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords who will come again to judge the living and the dead?
My guess is that very few people come to understand God’s greatest act of love when being in nature. That’s why God gave us His word in Scripture. In Scripture, we find God’s nature revealed. In it we see that God loves us though we are dead in sin. In it we find the message of forgiveness and reconciliation, of overflowing grace and mercy. In it we hear Jesus proclaim that he alone is the resurrection and the life.
This is why, in part, Jesus gave us his church. We gather together because we go to hear God’s word; we go to hear Jesus; we go to be reminded of God’s love for us through Jesus. We go to be renewed in the forgiveness that only he can give.