”Saying “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary” is similar to saying “Feed the hungry at all times, use food if necessary.” — Burk Parsons
This morning, the church gathers. Around the world, in large buildings and in small groups, people will come together to praise the name of Jesus. There will be singing, prayer, and in most places, a reading of the word of God.
Have you ever asked yourself why you go? Why are you getting yourself out of bed to go to something that can be awkward and sometimes uncomfortable?
People give all kinds of answers to this question. There are “traditionalists” and “futurists“, “Gaitherists” and “hipsters“, but all these categories miss the point and the purpose for why we go and gather.
Recently I came across a young man sharing his thoughts on these things:
“As I’ve grown up, what I hope for in church is less about a change in values or hearing statements that I 100% believe. What matters most to me and what I see in those around me is a desire for the church to be inclusive. But when I think of the church the last thing I think of is “inclusive.” And when friends talk about church, there is usually more hard feelings than warm ones.” —name withheld
The above quote is a response to this article.
While I have a hundred questions for this young man and the vagueness of his wish list, I recognize I can do the same thing. What this man wants is valid. What he is looking for sounds great and generally what I want as well. It is just insufficient…
One Pastor put it this way,
”Worship is to be a reality check which re-calibrates our minds so that we might live as aliens in a foreign land.” — Carl Trueman
Another Pastor reminds us of this,
“Making worship about a preferred style is overly simplistic and unhelpful. Worship is about spirit and truth-passion and doctrine.” — Jay Risner
This morning, as you gather, remember this is not about you, or me, or our desired preference. This “church thing” is not about feeling better or feeling welcomed. The church comes together to proclaim the Good News to a lost and broken world. Our “inclusive” is not through style, but through the reality of our guilt. The full story that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We are not gathering to make people feel better, but to make them feel God. And Jesus does more than just make us feel better. He makes us new. He makes us whole. He gives us hope. He raises our gaze. He sends us with a purpose. He heals the broken. He rescues sinners.
So, if your church does not cater to all your morning, what will you do?
I hope you will praise God, because that is what you most need.
Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to refine you into more and more of an image bearer of Christ.
Hunt down those sneaky preferences that blind us.
We need the Word of God preached. No sugar coating. Nothing half way. We need God’s Word applied to our lives. Even when we don’t want to hear it or like what it has to say. May you, and I, gather this morning to DELIGHT in the Lord, to be convicted by the Word, and challenged by the Holy Spirit to DECLARE His grace to the world around us because they desperately need it.