That’s going to tick some of you off. Good. It’s meant to. Keep reading, if you’ve got the guts.
We just finished the Being Challenge, and the fifth keystone habit that Jesus inspires is Choosing Church. Jesus expects us to come to His House, every week. He wants us to come together as His Family. He inspires us to worship Him, in person, for all that He’s done for us, for all that He’s given us. And that includes everything and everyone in your life. Do you believe this?
Jesus meets us in His House to talk with us, listen to us, strengthen us and heal us. Only in His House, and at His Table, do we find the forgiveness we so desperately need. In His presence we experience the relief of redemption, the joy of justification, and the hope of heaven. Do you believe this?
If you’re relying on a vague misunderstanding of “He’s with me everywhere” to justify staying away, you clearly haven’t listened to Him very carefully. If you think your private prayers are all there is to your life with Jesus, you don’t really know Jesus. If you say you can worship Him anywhere – and then you really don’t – the only one you’re fooling is yourself. The truth is, you need Jesus, in person, every day, every week, for life.
Do you believe this?
Let’s get to the honest truth, shall we? The great theologian, Sister Mary Clarence (a.k.a. Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act) once said, “People don’t like coming to church? Why? Because it’s a drag.” So many of us are addicted to entertainment. We want and need everything in our life to amuse us to some degree. That’s why we spend 10 hours a day looking at screens, playing our games, binge watching our shows, and ordering more and more streaming channels to stir up the dopamine in our brains. You don’t want to come to church because it doesn’t entertain you like all those other options you have.
Here’s the secret: it’s not supposed to. While there is an entertaining component to inspiring worship, the purpose is not to get you laughing or dancing or glowing over some majestic performance. The goal is not to put more butts in the seats to pay the bills (though some TV preachers seem to operate that way). The purpose is to drop off my garbage at the foot of the cross, to hear the voice of the One who loves me more than anyone else ever has, to know that He is putting me back together again so I can go our and face another week in a world trying to tear me down. Do you believe this?
And here’s the topper: Jesus wants you to share this part of your life with people who are experiencing the same challenges, the same obstacles, the same struggles. God created us to connect with others, and He built His church on the gathering of His children to share in the grace of Jesus, and in the life He has prepared for us. He paid for that life with His own. He paid for you in blood. Do you believe this?
I can hear it now: “I have my faith.” Do you? Is that what you call it: faith? Faith wants more of Jesus, not less. Faith is constantly hungering for more grace to fuel it. Faith isn’t knowing about Jesus; it’s knowing Jesus, personally, and wanting more out of that relationship every day. Faith gets me over myself and moves me past my childish, selfish motivations to involve myself only in those things that benefit me. Real faith in Jesus changes my life by turning me inside out, and instills in me an intense desire to want to share that life with others, and help them discover a better life for themselves – one that lasts forever. Don’t be so juvenile that your only spiritual thought is knowing enough to get to heaven. Love and care enough to take as many people with you as you can. Do you believe this?
Here’s how it turns out: if you figure that Jesus isn’t worth the extra time and energy, that you can appease Him by showing up once a month or so, your faith is almost dead. Jesus is looking for faith on fire, but if you think you can get by being lukewarm, you make Him want to puke (Revelation 3:16). But that’s not all. The people around you will see your example and follow it. If you have children, and they learn that Jesus isn’t a priority in your life, He will be less of one in theirs. So you’re once a month will become their once or twice a year. And their children – your grandchildren? Not at all. No Jesus. No faith. No hope. What a legacy! The parent who worships faithfully ends up with faithful kids, around 90% of the time.
That’s a whole lot of Law. But it’s true. The Good News is that Jesus breaks you down to build you back up. He has to nail you between the eyes to get your eyes refocused on Him. He breaks your me-and only me-heart so that He can create in you a new heart, a clean one – rebuilt by His amazing grace to be a loving, caring, joyful heart, just like His.
Right after He talks about puking, He says this: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. Do be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19-20).
I’m not asking you to go to church. I’m asking you to come to Jesus. And I could use the company.
Jesus is talking to you the way He did to Martha, when her brother Lazarus died. He said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though He dies…do you believe this?” (John 11:27).
She said, “Yes, Lord. You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Formerly doubting Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!”
The father whose son was healed said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Jesus says, “Come to me, you who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Now what do you say?
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.