Search This Blog

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What If God Said He Wasn't Coming to Church?

I certainly have spent enough time trying to get people to come to church. Others have done likewise. But I got the thought this morning whether or not God has any obligation to show up Himself. I mean, why should God come just because we sing songs, say prayers and listen to something a preacher says? Do we assume that He is always at church?

Of course, God has no obligation to show up. I am not challenging His omnipresent character. I am simply stating God's presence is more than simply being there. He is completely aware of what transpires everywhere, all the time. But some worship experiences I have been in have been dead. I fail to see the presence of God. I see the attempts of individuals to present rituals which fulfill their own need to "feel" as if they have met their own worship obligations.

Many of you know what I mean. There have been times when you have been in a worship experience that you "knew" that God was there. You knew something was going on that was not necessarily seen. You could see it on the faces of many of the people. You could see it in the hearts that were changed during the worship. You walked out praising an awesome God.

Not everyone wants this experience. They are quite happy fulfilling their own obligations yet continue being unchanged by the worship itself. They do not believe that God will change them. They believe that the change comes from their own actions rather than His. They see Him as a passive participant in worship. They watch the singers and the preachers perform. They give God much less than they do to an individual waiter at lunch after the service. They walk out glad that the experience is over. They wait until the guilt of their neglect of church exceeds their distain for the service itself until they return.

Of course, none of this is verbalized. They may never have analyzed their worship attendance. They just know that there are times that they come because they haven't been in some time. It helps if they can blame someone else for their lack of attendance. So, they are offended by something that happened and church and absolve themselves of all obligations to worship the Savior who gave Himself for them.

Do you think that God is present for some while others miss Him at church? That has to happen some times but there are also times when almost everyone knows that something special was going on. There are times when almost everyone says, "God was really here today." What do you think causes that?

I do know when God hides Himself from people. He does so because they have failed to connect worship with the rest of their lives. They act like they don't know Him the rest of the week. He, therefore, is weary of attending their worship services.

Could it be that our hearts either welcome or reject the presence of God when we act in ways either honoring or displeasing to Him? I think so. I don't think He will be at worship when we act in ways that fail to give Him glory. I believe we welcome Him when we do.

Isaiah 1:10-20 (NIV) 10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 "The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations-- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. 

No comments: