Friday, April 29, 2011

What's missing from your worship?

What is it that we expect? When we walk through the doors at church, what is it that we want to see? We want to see, Jesus, but is that really who we see? When we walk through the doors at church what is it we want to feel? Jesus. We want to feel Him with His arms wrapped tightly around us. We expect God to move, but to feel Him move we too must be ready to move. We have to stop talking to the one sitting next to us long enough to hear the words spoken by the pastor. Words brought to us in worship. Are we really there to worship or is it just another Sunday and that is what we do?

What is your Sunday like? Walking a little heavy? Things weighing you down? When we walk through the church doors lets bring all our baggage and leave it at the altar instead of carrying it with us. Jesus doesn't just want a part of us. He wants all of us! Isn't it time to trust Him?

We enter looking around to see all who is there. Do we wonder who is missing? Do we wonder why or do we wonder who is looking at us? We take our seat only to pass by others not paying much attention to the sadness written all over their faces. We see things that need to be done, but do we offer to serve? We wait. Expecting another to do the job.

"Something is missing", we say. Jesus knows what that something is. We look around trying to locate just what is missing, but I can tell you. It's us. You and I are missing from church. Oh, Jesus is there. He is wanting to be seen and heard. He is wanting to be felt and He so wants everyone to come to Him. But we don't. We don't move. We are the problem. Not, Joe, sitting three rows back with a drink waiting for him at home. Not Miss King sitting next to you with her crazy kids that never mind. It isn't the singer standing before you who is off beat just a little. Not the usher walking by who will offer you a plate soon. It isn't anyone, but the one sitting there looking for the problem. Ever wonder why we just simply can't put our finger on the problem? No one wants to see that it could really be themselves.

We walk in church as though, "Well, I am here. Everyone, I am here, do you see me?" We gossip about one another. Oh, it isn't really gossip if we are only sharing prayer requests, right? We turn our head when someone is in need. We know the needs all around us, but do we make calls? Do we send cards? Do we offer our hearts to another? Sadly, as we enter the doors we are still making it all about us. When does, Jesus get His turn? When will it be all about Him? When will we really get it?

Oh sure, as Christians we talk a good talk. We like to think we don't do the things the world takes part in, but we do. We do the very same things those we are judging are doing. It might not be the very same, but we too have our own set of problems we refuse to see. Until we refuse to see ourselves we will never fully see Jesus Christ for all He really is.

Where is the encouragement in our churches? Where is the circle of prayer? Who is leading the youth and who is standing behind the pulpit? We blame those standing before us for every single problem. Those pews inside the church are filled with sinners. There are no light sinners and heavy sinners. We are ALL sinners. We don't like to think of ourselves as sinners do we? Oh, we don't like that word, but friends, that is exactly what we are.

We place ourselves in circles of people. We like to say, "Well, she didn't even talk to me." "She walked right by me. Did you see that look she gave me? Oh, I know she doesn't like me?" Once again, who is it all about? We forget when we walk through the church doors we all are there to worship. We are there to worship the Savior who died for each and every one of us. The sinners  who He chose to shed His blood for. We are not there to determine who is best dressed or who isn't there because of their late Saturday night. We are not there to judge one another, casting glances at those we seen over the weekend. We are there to worship. What do we expect? Really? Until we are ready to give we will never be able to receive all Jesus has for us.

I think I expect to find love there. In this room where people gather I expect to see nothing more or less than Jesus. I want to see real. I want to see Jesus face to face as we sing and worship. We don't go to church to be served, but to serve. Somewhere I think we lose that point. We go thinking once again, it's all about ME.

A great day at church is meeting Jesus face to face and getting a little closer to Him. A great day at church is getting to close your eyes to all around you and take in all Jesus has for you. It's leaving all you have at the altar and trusting God to carry you throughout the week with a strength that only He has. It's watching as others come to know Him. Join Him for the very first time, lean on Him like never before, and come back to Him for the love they once knew greatly. A sweet service is seeing a tear of joy. A kiss of laughter and an open bible awaiting a new scribble.

It doesn't quite matter if your church carries a few thousand, a few hundred or just a few. What matters are the hearts that are open to all He has for you to hear. Church is not a building. It is a group of gathered people joined to celebrate all Jesus has for us. We allow this day just to become another day. We go. We listen. We return home. What would happen if we really gave all we had? What would happen if we really checked our baggage at the door, realized it isn't all about us, and totally let our hearts bleed? I mean let it all out, not caring who sees your tears, or how long you stay at the altar. Raising our hands in praise and laying our hand upon another in prayer. What if we stopped the fake smiles and stopped pretending we like everyone in the room and totally focused on the One who came?

What if we stopped talking long enough to really listen? What if for once we just stopped bragging on our family and shared the truth? What if we were honest and shared, "Things are not as they seem?" You know what? More people would come. More people would serve. More people would go to the altar. More people would reach out. Why? Because then my friends it would be real!

We all struggle. We all have fears. Why do we try to hide them? It is when we cover up everything and hide in pride that Jesus can't be seen or heard. We want our children to lead? Well, we must lead first. We must take that first step in not gossiping and judging those very people we gather with. We must not make a difference in those we help and in those we pray for. Why can't we simply reach out to everyone? It doesn't matter if you sit in the first row or come in last as service is just beginning. Each and every person is there because at that moment that is just where Jesus has called us to be. He has given each and every one of us a purpose and plan. Why are we not reaching out and encouraging those around us? Why? Because we are feeling it ourselves. Soon, we feel forgotten and lost and we stop looking for Jesus. We go home never to return. Sound familiar to you?

We go to church and we carry within us such hurts and bitterness. Until we are able to let all that go and realize our churches are not perfect we will never find what we are looking for. Only Jesus can heal our brokenness. Only Jesus can fill us from our emptiness. Only Jesus will forever be with us, never letting us down and bringing disappointment. People make mistakes. People are searching. Each person walking through your church doors is searching for something. Until they see a congregation that is real they will never come to know a Jesus that is real.

Friends, it's time to take off our pride. It's time to let down the veil we have been hiding under. It's time to stop talking and listen for once. If we really let go, really let go, we will see Jesus move in a way like never before. Isn't it time? Change? It must begin within our own heart. All we have to do is show up and let Jesus do the rest.

"And now abide faith, hope, love these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8
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