Reverence for our holy God is lacking severely in many Christian circles today. You can see it by the lack of interest in Bible reading, in the failure to obey Him in preaching the Gospel, even in how we approach Sunday morning worship.
- “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”—Habakkuk 2:20
That was the verse posted on the left wall of my little country church when I was a kid. And while my Baptist upbringing so long ago treated the church building like it was God’s temple (you didn’t run in it, you didn’t talk loudly, you didn’t horse around ever!), the one thing I must give them credit for was their commitment to honoring and revering the Lord Almighty. We have lost a sense of fearing God nowadays and I believe we dishonor Him in this area.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day had no reverence for God. They took advantage of the system for their own profit. They hated the Gentiles anyway, so filling the Court of the Gentiles with a stockade of animals for sale didn’t bother them. God was a means to an end, even if that meant following archaic laws and rules, and going through the motions. Dead religion is always this way. It’s happened in church history more than I care to discuss.
Jesus went into the Temple, was disgusted by their shallow, self-centered worship, and He drove out the retail operations that had replaced real worship.
Yes, as Christians we have a personal, intimate relationship with God like nothing that the Jews ever experienced. Yes, we are now adopted into His family, are called His friends, and will rule and reign with Him someday. But that doesn’t mean we approach Christianity with a consumer mentality:
- When you don’t like the music at church, do you feel it’s time to move on and find a church that provides you what you “need”?
- How many people shop for churches that have kids programs, and won’t commit to one that doesn’t?
- Is church the place you go to feel good about yourself?
- If tee off time with the buddies is at 9 Sunday morning, are you on the golf course or at church?
The history and reason for denominations comes from the Reformation which we’ve discussed in the past. But, it was not designed 500 years ago to become a way to shop for what you like. The biblical expectation 2,000 years ago hasn’t changed: Jesus wants you to be committed to the church, to sacrifice for it, to serve it, pray for it, and to not approach it looking to get something out of it. When President Kennedy stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”, he could have been saying “church” instead of “country” because that is what God expects of each of us. If your church is exalting God, teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word, praying, spreading the Gospel, and promoting spiritual growth, then you are in a biblical church that needs to be fully supported by your time, treasure, and talents. Yet, too many Americans barely commit to their churches, leave churches over unbiblical reasons, and treat it like it’s an option on the smorgasbord buffet.
My quest is for each person at Waikoloa Baptist to commit to it fully. Don’t show up and go through the religious motions. Come expecting to hear from God’s Holy Word. Come knowing that you and your fellow brothers and sisters will be pouring out worship and praise to the Father. Come seeking to serve your brothers and sisters. Leave seeking to spread the love of Christ to the world through His Gospel.
I grew up in church. Going through the motions became easy after awhile because it was a cultural and family expectation that I would be there, because we created rituals that we followed every week, and because it became a duty. Not every week was this way for me, but even one week of going to church not seeking to worship and glorify God is too many. Don’t trivialize the worship of God as I often did at those times.
Furthermore, coming to church and directing our hearts and minds to Christ is not easy. Just in my short time behind the pulpit each week I am battling a thousand thoughts flying through my head. They can be meaningless thoughts, prideful thoughts, worries about things I need to do, and so forth. And I know from my years sitting in church services that many of those same thoughts flew through my mind then as well.
- So, let me ask you, is the God in His holy temple of your life? ________________________________________________________
- Do you reverence Him? _________________________________
- Do you bow to Him in humility? __________________________
- Are you the clay and have allowed Him to be the Potter, doing whatsoever He wants to in your life? ______________________
- Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
- Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve”
- Are you truly a servant, or a consumer? _________________________
- True worship of God is not singing on Sunday, but serving. In fact, the word “worship” comes from an old Middle English word, “worthship”. Do you bow to Him and say, “Thou art worthy to receive glory, honor, and power”? ________________________
- Look at how you approach church. Do you go to get something out of it, or to offer something? __________________________
- Do you know, if there are 100 people, each thinking about themselves, then that means only 1 person is concerned with you: you! But, if there are 100 people, each thinking about each other and disregarding their own selves, that means there are 99 people concerned about you! Which is better? ___________________________________________________
- Pray to God today and commit to your church family, to be concerned with them first and foremost, and to serve, serve, serve.
- Ask God to remove your “preferences” from your heart and to change it to love the church sacrificially as He does.
- Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
- Jesus had a zeal for God’s Temple.
- Do you have a zeal for God’s glory to be present among our church body—the temple of the Holy Spirit? ___________________________________________________
- Assuming you enjoy coming to church, what is it that excites you? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Now, was encountering God, hearing from His authoritative Word, fellowshipping with your church family, and sharing in the love of Christ among your answers above? _______________________________________________
Book Recommendation: In the back of the church under the DVDs is a number of I Am a Church Memberbooks by Thom Rainer. It’s a short book, and they are free for the taking. I challenge you to grab one and read it. We each need to work harder at loving and serving each other as part of our worship and as part of our testimony (John 13:35).