In one of his sermons, St.Augustine said to his congregation, "you are a Christian, you come regularly to church, you love God's word, and enjoy listening to it." (sermon 178, section 7)
A lot of people would reject this out of hand and say, "What has going to church regularly got to do with the essence of a believing Christian? One can believe quite well without necessarily going to church regularly. Going to church is a matter of practice, not of belief itself. To say that church-going and belief are connected is to link two totally extrinsic things, as if by some kind of magic. If someone goes regularly to church, so what? Some are born that way. It has nothing to do with faith, or with depth of faith. It might often be the other way around. The people who do not go to church may often be the true believers, with the churchgoers the more shaky about the whole thing."
What such people forget is the connection between faith, Christian faith, and the love of God. True faith lives with love. Where love of God is stifled, faith will die. How so? Generally speaking, those who do not go to church regularly are not listening to or reading the word of God in some other place, at home or elsewhere. By and large, the people who avoid churchgoing, and they are in the vast majority today, also have no affection for reading or listening to the word of God in any other place. They do not enjoy listening to it. In fact, they abhor it.
This should not be a source of self-satisfaction for them. Quite the contrary. If they were bothering to notice, they would see that they have adopted the mindset of Satan. Where does this antipathy to the word of God come from? They were not born with it. It came from the effects of commitment to sin. It is commitment to sin that stifles the appetite for the word of God.
And commitment to sin stifles belief as well. The people who find in themselves an aversion to the words of God are usually not merely believers who avoid the words of God because they do not want to be reminded of the obligation to repent. Most of them long ago passed through that stage when they first began their commitment to sin. They quickly descended from there to outright unbelief. They avoid God's word now, not because they do not want to be reminded of what they believe in, but because they now do not believe, and do not want to hear about any contrary opinions. They are now, most of the time, thoroughly self-righteous, and want desperately to remain so.
They do not now believe in St. John's teaching that the love of God cannot exist in anyone committed to disobedience to any of the Ten Commandments. They do not believe St. Paul's lists of sins—murder, adultery, idolatry, sodomy, talebearing, chicanery, fornication, and drunkenness—which prevent those committed to them from reaching the Kingdom of Heaven. They do not believe Christ's teaching that those who die committed to sin, as sin is de- fined by the Scriptures, will be cast by His angels forever into Hell.
They have a distaste for the word of God and this distaste is really the product of unbelief. And both the distaste and the unbelief have come from sin. What is enjoyment of the word of God? It is first and foremost the essential ingredient, the essential beginning of the fulfillment of what Christ said was the greatest Commandment of all: that we love God with our whole hearts. Those who enjoy listening to the word of God have a clear sign from Heaven that they are on the road to eternal life. Those who do not enjoy listening to the word of God have an equally clear sign, if they open their eyes to it, that they are on the road that leads to damnation.