Sunday, March 6, 2011

Seriously, Why Are You Going To Church Today?

Why are you going to church today? Don't give a simple answer. Think about it for a minute. Really give it some thought and give an honest answer.

If you are like most people you are going to be rushing around like crazy this morning, getting ready without much thought as to why. If you are a parent you will probably leave the house rushed and frustrated after getting you and your children ready to participate in a family tradition that may have lost its significance. Can you remember if you had breakfast this morning or did you skip it? Is church worth it?

Many of us do not put a lot of thought into why we are going to church. Of course we go to show respect to Jesus. Like me, you probably have a lot to be thankful for. You probably also find a lot of encouragement there, among people you know as friends. The music is uplifting and the message is usually challenging. You never go home feeling you have wasted your time. But is that all that church is suppose to be?

Far from it, but it is what we have turned it into. Part of the problem is that we don't start with a proper relationship with Jesus Christ. It is his church, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture but we don't really know him. Oh, we know of him. We know who he is, what he taught, how he told us to live but is he any different to us than Gandhi is to his followers? We know Jesus died for us and that he rose on the third day and eventually ascended and took his place at the right hand of the Father. But how does that impact our day? What does that have to do with my work place? How does that have any effect on my bills? Why should it matter enough to make me want to go to church and use up an hour or two of my week?

In order for church to have any life changing effect for us we must be first changed by the life giver, Jesus Christ. That first happens when we are forced to look upon our need for him, looking into our own darkness. Until we realize just what vile and wicked creatures we are we will never understand what an incredibly beautiful thing Jesus, the perfect Son of God, has done for us. It is difficult but we must be willing to look into the blackness of our own heart before we can understand the depth of his love. We have to stop lying to ourselves and be willing to be honest about who we are so that when his light shines on us we will be willing to allow our sins to be seen in that light and in this way we can be washed clean by what Jesus has done.

It is when we experience this cleaning that we fall in love with Jesus. It is not that we love him but that he first loved us, and he did so when we were wicked and vile. You see, when we have fallen in love with Jesus, it is not because we are following the crowd but instead because we have experienced his love. We go to church because we want to; because we love to spend time with other lovers of Jesus; because it is a thrill for us to join our voices in worship; because we know something great is going to happen when we seek God's face in earnestness. But there is even more to it than that.

I go because I need a fresh reminder of my dependence on Jesus. The moment I think I can last one minute without him is the moment I begin to fall. When I stand there in worship, surrounded by other worshippers, and I lift up my heart and hands in vulnerability, there is a moment of brokenness. It is the moment when God becomes big and holy again in my life, and I realize where I would be without Jesus. It is the moment when I remember my failings in the last few days as his presence presses in. Where God is no sin can stand. It is in brokenness that I come into that holy moment and renew myself in him, when I confirm the Lordship of Jesus in my life, when I surrender myself again. I pray with the psalmist:

Restore us, O God; 
   make your face shine upon us, 
   that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:3)

Yes, it is necessary to be renewed every day with Jesus but there is something incredibly important about doing this in the presence of brothers and sisters who are doing this with you. It is in that moment of vulnerability that the Holy Spirit rises up, cleanses us and provides the healing. It is in such a moment that Jesus Christ encourages and strengthens us. It is these moments that we feel the power of God moving, convicting, renewing, empowering, encouraging, lifting us up out of our brokenness. It is in such moments that forgiveness is birthed in us and all harm done against us for the  past week is washed away. It is also when we are convicted to right our wrongs and to honour one another. You can't stand in the loving. holy presence of Jesus Christ and remain the same. It stops being about you and it becomes about others. We are restored in God's love.

This is why many of us go to church and are going to church this morning, or at least one of the reasons. If church has lost its meaning and purpose for you I pray you will make the decision today to see that changed. You need that experience of restoration. You need to push past the surface trappings of church and discover the life changing power of Jesus Christ. If you seek his face today, if you make that effort, you will find renewal and so much more. Do not let church be just one of those things you do in your week because none of us can afford to waste time. Enter into the presence of our holy God and allow his face to shine upon you.  

1 comment:

Toyin O. said...

So true, everytime I go to church, I always ask God to renew my passion and take me to new stratas that I have never been before:)