Sunday, March 20, 2011

We Are Going To Church Because ...

Come on, let's admit it; most of the troubles we face are things we have caused ourselves. There are a few rare things that we may be totally innocent of, but for the most part we bring trouble to ourselves. Either we forget to do things we should or we but it off, not dealing with it right away, or we out-and-out just refuse to do what is right. We say things we shouldn't, do things we mustn't, and desire things we should run away from. It is true what Solomon wrote:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, 
   but fools 
despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)

Understanding that the use of "fool" here means those who are morally deficient, we can relate. The fact is that without Jesus Christ in us we would be left to our own terrible selves, getting into all kinds of trouble and mischief. As much as we want to picture ourselves as a moral race, advanced from previous generations, all we have to do is take a good look around us and see that we are morally bankrupt. We may have a few shining moments in our lives and in our society but it's the other moments that cause the problem. We are not capable of building a moral society because our own nature will de-rail our efforts every time. We need Jesus, who is the only one who can transform us into a new creation, with a transformed heart and mind.

Why are you going to church this morning or even tonight? Is it not because you want to be something more than you are? Then we need to recognize that attending church will not change us any more than attending a garden party will change us. It may have a momentary effect on us but it will not last very long and it certainly will not hold up against the opposition of our nature. We need a new nature and that only happens through the transformation that takes place when we encounter Jesus. I don't mean the decision to change because of the guilt that comes on us from the preaching. I mean the supernatural transformation that takes place when we decided to allow ourselves to die to everything we know and accept about ourselves, and then are raised into new life, a new birth, when we are made alive in Jesus.

Now here is the thing; when we have experienced this re-birth we realize that nothing else matters to us more than the life-giver, Jesus Christ. He becomes our everything. We recognize he is our life and even the breath we breathe is owed to him. He is our great provider and sustainer. When we feel that old nature wanting to join with us again, wanting to haul us back into that slimy pit and when we begin to feel the pressures of this world because we don't fit in, we rely on the same truth of which the psalmist wrote:

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” 
   your love, O LORD, supported me. 
When anxiety was great within me, 
   your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)

That is why we are going to church this morning, to celebrate the great things he has done for us, the mighty works of his hand. How often has his love sustained and supported us this week? How often has his work in us flooded us with a joy unspeakable, even when people around us were overwhelmed by despair and anxiety? We go to worship Jesus today because he is our everything:

It is good to praise the LORD 
   and make music to your name, O Most High, 
to proclaim your love in the morning 
   and your faithfulness at night. (Psalm 92:1-2)

It is not us so much that we have become stronger but instead that we now know our source of strength. When things become hard we lift up our eyes to the LORD and he rescues us. When we feel that we are faint and weary, we call out to Jesus and he restores our strength. When we feel we cannot resist the overwhelming nature of sin, he steals us away on his wings of love. We sing and shout with the psalmists today:

But the LORD has become my fortress, 
   and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 94:22)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
   my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

We go to church this morning to celebrate. We recognize that we could not save ourselves from ourselves; it took the supernatural act of love from Jesus Christ and the Father. We recognize that we cannot live for Jesus without being alive in Jesus, which is not a thing of the flesh but is supernatural. We recognize that we have adversaries that would love to destroy this supernatural work in us but he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We celebrate because Jesus is our everything and, if we want to enter his glorious rest, must remain our everything. Enter in with thankful hearts this morning, even if you faced some storms this week, especially because you faced those storms. He has proved to be a very solid fortress indeed. Sing! Dance! And Shout! the glorious praises of our LORD today!

1 comment:

tyleragent said...

Thanks for the article, and I wouldn't say that I'm all that religious. But my brother happens to be very religious and all he wants is for him and his partner to be welcomed in the church. And I don't quite understand why that is such a hard thing to ask for?