Are you different? After you’ve been to church, I mean. I don’t mean are you strange, I mean, are you changed? Transformed?
The purpose of church is not that we might be entertained. Or be pleased. Or gratified (although it may do that, too). The purpose of church is to be absolutely transformational. How am I different this week because I went to church last week? More loving? More patient? More understanding? Sweeter? Less selfish? More generous? More attractive? (In the best sense of that word.) Stronger? More contagious?
That ugly stuff I took there – the critical spirit, the jealousy, the fake smile, the temptation to fawn over some and ignore others, the guilt, the inner scowl – did I leave it there…at the altar? Did church do what it was intended to do? Was I changed? Different? Transformed?
Please don’t take my questions lightly. We are aliens by birth and sinners by choice. We sin as easily as water runs downhill. The major contributor to the New Testament would say, “The evil I don’t want to do I find myself doing, and the good I wish I was doing, I don’t.” Can you relate?
The enemy rejoices if we drive into the church parking lot angry at the kids for taking so long to get ready, exhausted because it’s been a hard week, our attention absorbed by a major conflict at work on Tuesday or a major conscience compromise on Thursday. Anything to keep us distracted because he knows better than we what God can do when we are attentively immersed in His presence.
I need to disclose that the purpose of my probing today is directed primarily, not so much at the individual worshipers as it is at those who have been designated as God’s representatives before the congregation. Remembering who will be there helps provide sanctified motivation to our homework. Battles of eternal significance will be waged in the worship center this morning. I remember reading a book titled, “In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.” I believe it. What happens there today will change the population of eternity. I must not go as a participant bringing that which has cost me nothing.
Music: I must come bringing a rich testimony from my heart not simply a demonstration of my musical skills. Scripture: It must come from time on my knees before God’s Word so when I read it it is clear that it has come from His heart. The children’s story: So a youngster may one day recall, “I remember a story I heard once when I was a kid that changed my life.” The sermon: It must have changed the trajectory of my life before God can use it to change anyone else’s.
I’m about halfway in reading the Old Testament through again. Observation: God’s people seldom rise higher than their leaders.
-By Don Jacobsen