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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why We Are Here

How was church today? Did you go? (I hope so after that post last month.) Was it good? Did you get something out of it? Did you know that's the wrong question?

There is a sense today that religion is bad but spirituality is good. There is a sense that "organized" is evil but "feeling the presence of God" is good. There is a sense that our beliefs are a personal thing, that we should do what makes us feel closer to God, whatever that is. If it's church, well, then, good for you. But if it's not, well, no one judges you but God. So we toddle off to church if we find it entertaining enough or amusing enough or moving enough ... or not. Or we err on the other side of the coin, finding fault with the music or the drummer or the sermon -- too long, too short, too muddled, or, worst of all, too clear. There was too much drama or not enough. All of this points to the wrong questions.

Why are we at church? (If we're not at church, we already started with the wrong question -- "What pleases me most?" -- and it's not being in the presence of God with fellow believers.) We are commanded to "Offer a sacrified of praise to God" (Heb 13:15), to "Bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6:2), to "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col 3:16). We are to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (Heb 10:23-24). We are to "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" (Heb 12:12). Shall I go on? All of this is what we give and none of it has an inward look, a sense of "What do I get out of it?"

Paul delighted in referring to himself as a "bond-servant of Christ". Being a slave to Christ is really not a self-centered thing to be. On the other hand, it is something that brings the utmost joy. Serving God and serving one another as we do so is a matter of great joy. I suspect that being in the presence of God with other saints in order to offer a sacrifice of praise to Him and serve one another is really much, much better than the meager returns we get when we seek to "get something out of" church. Or much else, for that matter.

1 comment:

Malcolm Foley said...

Church was great! Nothing like the communion of the saints...