Perhaps there will be empty seats in your church today because, for too long a time, our worship gatherings have been more about Christianity than Christ Himself. With all of the emphasis on the -isms, –osophies and –ologies that are connected to the message of the Church, it would seem that many have given up on attending, perhaps, because, in too many local assemblies, Jesus Christ cannot be readily found there anymore.
No church is perfect but I am writing more about the possibility of someone visiting the church where I serve and coming away having heard a decent bible message, being warmly greeted by a sincere welcoming ministry, hearing well-crafted music that contains lyrics which purposefully magnify the Son of God and the message of saving grace, partaking of the Communion cup and bread and then exiting the building feeling good … but then leave, wondering where Jesus Christ might have attended worship today because he clearly wasn’t at the church they just left. I hate even the consideration of that potential but, as a church leader, I must give my mind to that reality from time to time. Religious orthodoxy need only be repeated and honed to become well established. Liturgy is easy and not necessarily the same thing as worship. We might be as conservative as possible on modern social issues and spattered with generational mortar as we continue to shore up the thick walls of the citadels around our denominational traditions. But is anyone in your church asking the question, “Where is the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit? Could Jesus Christ be present and active among us and, yet, unnoticed? Did the Lord attend our services today?”
We do well to enter our houses of worship very desperate every time we go; so hungry we hurt with gnawing spiritual need. We must cry out before we ever arrive at the building for the manifest presence of the God of the Bible. Submit to whatever it is that He desires to do among you and the ones with whom you worship. Go ahead and erect the normal worship molds that you weekly request God to squeeze His infinite self into but, this day, confess to Him that it is okay with you if He chooses to do something else, something different. Pray boldly (and correctly) that it does not matter what else takes place at your church today if He Himself does not attend. Don’t allow yourself another week of copping out on the truth that God is omnipresent and, therefore, certainly among you – of course He is with you at your church in that sense! He also is present in Hell in the very same theological sense – should that bring any comfort to us? I’m asking you to hunger for an impacting, imparting, inspiring and enlightening morning of activity from God Himself that may duly cause your worship to be stunned silence rather than whatever the normal rigmarole tends to be. He thunders at times, but we assume He will not do so at church. He rends the rocks and splits the seas and opens the skies – but that’s not consistent with the order of service in today’s bulletin. This Savior raises the dead and heals the sick and makes the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. The God of Zephaniah chapter 3 dance sin circles around His beloved children and yet we assume that sitting down and behaving is always the order of the day. While acknowledging that Scripture teaches that the Spirit brings about a liberty that results in things being done decently and in order, I also realize that, on the Day of Pentecost, all Heaven broke loose and bewildered the onlookers as the people of God were taken beyond themselves. Some churches would think they did God a service by ensuring that nothing supernatural ever had the ability to occur. Friends, this is not a critique I’m giving today – it’s a warning.
Aren’t you hungry? Is it not reasonable that our gatherings should be superintended by God Himself today? Will leaders slow down enough to cry out to the Almighty and confess that their strongest desire is the presence and power of His Spirit? Or will we just do church again? Will we merely gather with one another? I love the people of God and thank Heaven for my church family. But Sundays are for worship. If it is only you and I gathering in a building where God does not attend today – then who is there to worship? It is my belief that many will worship Christianity today and not Christ. I’m encouraging you to check your own heart so as to ensure that you are not among those who come so close today only to go away having eaten religious air but swallowing no substance from the Spirit. Weep before you sing today. Confess before you serve this morning. Cry out before you show up. Repent before you teach or preach. Ask God to open your eyes as you await His visitation today. Those who seek Him early will find Him. My hope is that I find Him at my home church this morning.
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