Have you ever had to do something that you really just didn’t want to do? Have you ever faked anything or pretended to be someone you are not? Most if not all of us have at least at some point done either one of those things. For most guys when meeting a young lady we want to date we are guilty of this. How many of us are guilty of this with church or our relationship with Christ? I was reading an article this morning that talked about this very thing. The title of the article was, “How long can you succeed in ministry WITHOUT God?” My first thought when I saw the title was “not very long.” However, as I read the article my opinion changed. The premised of the article was this, we have created a church culture in which we can pull off a pretty good worship service without expending a lot of energy. We have memorized the songs we sing, pastors who have been in ministry for a long time have a lot of sermons to pull from, and many times we judge how well a church is doing by the number of people who come to worship instead of by the number of souls being saved and changed by God. Israel created this culture for themselves in the Old Testament. As long as people were becoming more like the Pharisees, the Pharisees thought everything was ok. Going back to the article for a moment, there was a question in there. “How many weekends do we leave worship and think it was good because we liked the music, we enjoyed the sermon, we noticed that attendance was up, but we never ask was God pleased with our worship today?” There is a word for that statement, OUCH!
During Jesus’ earthly ministry He challenged and confronted the worship of His day. The people were satisfied, but Jesus constantly challenged them on where they really worshipping the one, true God or were they worshipping the God they had created in their heart and mind? In one confrontation with the Pharisees Jesus quoted from Isaiah 29 when He said, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:8-9). Wow is that ever challenging! How many times have we faked worship knowingly in church? The saddest truth is this one, we have become so good at it that others around us don’t even know we are doing it. Of course if they were honest, many times they are just as guilty of doing the same thing. So many times we manufacture things in church to make it look like we or the church is something that it isn’t, and we think that we are getting away with it because no one has caught on to it. Yet the whole time God is up there in heaven looking down on us, with His heart breaking for us and at the same time being righteously indignant because we have turned His house into a place where we are worshipped instead of Him.
I wonder how many times Jesus would have quoted Isaiah 29:13 (Mt. 15:8-9 from above) to us during our worship services? May this convict us and challenge us to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, that our worship would not be in vain but that we would truly worship Jesus as He deserves to be worshipped. We can make all the excuses we want, I had a long week, I’m tired, everyone else is doing it, etc. and keep on going the same way we have been. Or we can realize that Jesus Christ and Him alone is worthy to be worshipped, we can remember the miserable, wretched sinner that we were before Christ showed us grace and saved us, and we can worship Him and thank Him for saving a wretch like me. May God be glorified as the body of Christ lift up His holy name this weekend.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him