Thursday, July 19, 2007

To church or not to church?

A friend sent this to me a couple of years ago, during the winter months here in Ohio. I thought it was worth sharing. (Thank you, Linda!)
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As a result of weather and driving conditions in northeast Ohio, I missed church last Sunday, much to my chagrin. I don't like to miss, and it seems for various reasons I have been away, far more of late than I like. One good thing that came of it though, is that being disgruntled about missing, has caused me to pause and reflect about why it's so important to me to attend church, when for most of my life I tried to avoid it at all costs.

Thru the years, there have been periods of time that I have attended church on a regular basis, but generally that was short lived. In retrospect, I think I understand why. I always went to church with a "what's in it for me attitude"... to receive blessings, to be uplifted and to learn. There's nothing wrong with any of those things, they are all elements of worship. But they are weak motivating factors for being in God's house. Inevitably, at some point in time, a blessing won't be received and we won't be uplifted and the first thing we're going to think is that something is wrong with the church, pastor, congregation, anything but us and we quit attending! We use excuses such as "There's nothing but a bunch of hypocrites at that church" or "I don't agree with Pastor Smith" or Mrs. Jones thinks she has to run everything" or any number of other equally invalid excuses.

We've gone to receive. Mirriam Webster lists synonyms for receive as "take", "admit" and "take in", and "to act as a receptacle or container for" as one definition. As happens with any receptacle or container that only takes in and never gives out or empties, it reaches a saturation point. It won't hold anymore, it stays the same. It can't get fuller. Eventually the contents get stagnant and useless. We get the same way if we are not giving or emptying. We can't take anymore in, we stay the same, stagnate and quit. We must give something, to be able to take more in!

I've discovered the greatest thing I can give during any service is the utmost of praise to God! I go to give worship, to exalt and to give every part of my being to my beloved Father for the short amount of time that I am there each week. He is my reason for being there. My main focus is on giving God the reverence He deserves. When I do this fully, I am not paying attention to what others may be doing or saying, and I don't quibble over small issues in theology with which I may not fully agree. Recently I read in one of my devotionals "Help us to make no distinctions regarding origins, heredity, or traditions, but to see Christ in all believers.", and that is what I really want to do. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, Our Father is faithful to do His miraculous work in us!

I never cease to be amazed at how those little issues, that we use as excuses not to attend, are resolved if we are faithful to worship first. It's what I want for my life, and pray you all seek in yours.

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