If we are not careful as Christians, we can get focused more on our preference for worship, than the One we are called to worship.
At new, hip, seeker-friendly churches, casual dress is allowed and often encouraged. Coffee and donuts are waiting upon arrival along with a worship team with lights and a big screen to display the message. Older, traditional churches still have the red hymnals in the pews, a song leader, and someone playing the piano and organ. You won’t often see any new-fangled electronic spectacles on display. The devil knows if he can’t defeat us? His best bet is to divide us! And if not careful? We fall victim to focusing more on the style of worship, than who we are there to worship. We focus more on the wardrobe suggested, than the word shared. The donuts catch our eye and we ignore the doctrine. Is it sound? Is it biblical? Do I leave closer to Jesus with a burning desire to share the gospel? Or do I leave comfortable, content and in a sugar coma?
What I have found? Is that the Holy Spirit? The presence of God himself? Is wherever two or more are gathered in His name. Not the churches name, not the pastor’s name, but HIS NAME.
This subject had been on my mind for quite some time as I pondered the following..
I have been fortunate enough to hear stories from friends about miracles, signs and wonders they witnessed in 3rd world countries while serving on a mission trip. In those countries? The church was often just a building with a dirt floor. A place many walked miles to, with no light show or stage, no donuts or coffee, just people who knew their hope comes from Jesus and the power of the cross.
I was fortunate enough to witness the “Carry the Love” crusade at a college campus where I saw college students lives be transformed when the Holy Spirit was ushered in by a group of young missionaries with a burning desire to share the gospel to open and receptive hearts that needed to hear about the power of the cross.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small country church where I learned about the Holy Spirit and that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. I learned to bury the scriptures deep in my heart and learn those old hymns that declare there is power in the blood that was shed on the cross. “There’s power in the blood” – “Victory in Jesus” – “The Old Rugged Cross”..
I have been fortunate enough to attend a spirit-filled, bible based church that has amazing, anointed worship leaders. Preachers who deliver on-time anointed messages. And while we have lights, sound and a big screen? And yes, even donuts. More importantly? You’ll hear the gospel, the power of the cross, and feel God’s love almost tangible when you walk into the building.
I was fortunate enough to attend a missions trip to an Indian Reservation in South Dakota where I saw the love of Christ displayed as we shared the gospel to a town that needed a promise of hope. I saw His presence change and transform lives and give them that hope they were searching for.
I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a home that provided the room for me to host women’s events. I watched a small group of women who became transparent with their need for Jesus, and love for one another, usher the Holy Spirit into my basement on a chilly Spring afternoon.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to feel the Holy Spirit hit me so hard I knew Jesus was in the room with me as I sat on the floor of my tiny apartment and cried out for answers. As I asked Him to take the pain and make me whole again.
I am now fortunate enough to attend a small country bible-based church where a Pastor is insistent all roads (sermons) have to point back to the blood and the cross as he teaches the word and shares illustrations to make it applicable to the captivated audience. In turn, they gain the wisdom needed, and a desire to share the gospel outside the four walls of the church.
I took a trip to the foothills of Kentucky last weekend and as I passed the old country churches, noticed signs of different denominations, and spoke to the people I met, I pondered this thought once more. As I pondered, this scripture came to mind.. “For I am the Lord. I change not.” – Malachi 3:6. The Lord doesn’t change where his presence resides every few years to “fit the times”. His word says specifically where God is… “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20. He places no stipulations on the building, the dress code or the donuts. He’s wherever two or more are gathered together in HIS NAME, seeking His presence. He comes to us alone in our time of need. In Leviticus we read, “And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” A searching heart can find him in the middle of a tiny apartment lying on the floor crying out in pain, or in the middle of the woods as a man bows his knee and says “I need you God!” Wherever you are, and your heart is searching? He meets you there.
This blog was inspired by a question I asked Tom as we drove through the foothills of Eastern, KY. His answer? Intrigued me and caused me to stop and ponder….
Kris: “What makes a church a “dead church” and what makes a church a “live church”.
Tom: “Kris, what’s it say in Leviticus 17:11?”
Kris: “Tommm… I don’t know without looking it up! You know I don’t have the bible memorized like you do. You’ve been a preacher for 32 years, give me a break!”
Tom: “In Leviticus it says that life is in the blood. Churches that are alive? Are preaching about the blood and the cross. Dead churches? They’re not preaching the blood and the cross.”
Kris: “Oh wow – that’s powerful. I need to think on that for a bit…”
I encourage you to think on that a bit as well. When we start looking for a church to attend, or sizing our fellow Christians up, are we making it about our preferences more than about the power of the cross?