Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Are You Going To Church Today?

It is going to be great today as millions of Christians gather around the world to celebrate the unfailing love of our gracious Father as revealed through Jesus Christ. I imagine that each of us are going to gather with grateful hearts that are overflowing with praise and worship for the abundance we have received from our God. Perhaps that abundance is not in financial form but it is certainly an abundance of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, strength, power, encouragement and salvation. God's spiritual blessings are deep and overflowing in our hearts, but sometimes we put greater value on the things that profit our body instead of those that prosper our spirit. Sometimes we get so caught up in the physical that we forget just how rich we are and perhaps we are somewhat less grateful then we should be.

I find that many of us reach a point where we forget where we have come from, what Jesus has done for us, and what we need to do to hold on to those incredible blessings. Sometimes we can reach the same place as the psalmist as he wrote:

I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. (Psalm 59:4)

Imagine being able to claim that, "I have done no wrong". As I walk through the mall I sometimes wonder what things lay hidden beneath the visible exterior of the people I pass. What sins haunt them? What fears stab at their hearts? What great or little things disturb their peace? What is it that they have done that they hope no one ever finds out? The thing is that God knows and so no one can stand innocent before him without the covering of Jesus Christ. In Proverbs we are asked this question:

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; 
   I am clean and without sin”? (Proverbs 20:9)

That question causes me to look back on this week and see the number of times I fell short of who I should have been in Jesus. How many opportunities did I miss? How many people did I hurt with words or actions? Did I speak words that would have been better left unspoken? There are so many miss-steps we can make in a day. Indeed, who can say I am without sin?

Do you remember how Jesus dealt with those who wanted him to pass judgement on the woman who was caught in adultery? Certainly she had sinned and she deserved to receive the penalty of the law but Jesus also knew the sins of the accusers:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Sometimes in the rush of our days, in our self-absorbed world, we forget the weakness of our flesh and stand in that place of judgement when actually we have no ground to stand on at all. That should be enough to cause us to check our attitude before we arrive at church today. He are not in attendance to condemn those who may offend us but instead we are going to worship the Father who has chosen to forgive our offences against him. That should be the only thing in our heart today, gratefulness for his mercy and grace. Remember:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) 

I desire with all my heart to see the Body of Christ flowing in the blessings of Jesus Christ to the point that it becomes a steady stream pouring out into the world around us. But for this to happen we need to stand before him in truth this morning. We need to gather in with repentant hearts but also with hearts bursting with gratefulness; grateful that we do not stand condemned but instead forgiven. It is when we realize how much we need to be forgiven that our hearts explode in passionate love. It is not simply an emotion whipped up by great music; it is a passionate emotion rooted in the truth of the Word:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

So let us gather today to celebrate the one who loved us enough to make this all possible. Let's celebrate his unfailing love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. Let's celebrate that we stand before him innocent of our past because that is the righteousness he has declared over us because of the covering of Jesus. He have decided to trust in his unfailing love and he has declared us righteous. Let's celebrate Jesus and set aside all the ugliness of condemnation that may tempt us as we stand with our brothers and sisters. Just set it aside and put on your party hat because we have so much to celebrate today. We are forgiven. We are innocent. We are the children of God and he loves us in great abundance. Our brother Jesus continues to sit at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me. He knows us, and despite that fact, he loves us and forgives us. I would say that is a great reason to celebrate today!

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