When you think about "attending church," what is it that comes to your mind? What happens at your once or twice weekly meetings, and what changes are wrought in your life on a continual basis as a result? (wrought-produced or shaped by beating with a hammer, as iron or silver articles.) How is your walk with God affected? And perhaps the most important question, is God permitted to attend, or does the business of church effectively leave Him standing at the door hoping to be invited in?
If our gatherings were met with the hardcore Word of God the way Jesus and His disciples taught, and we were continuously challenged to raise our standards to live a God-centered life; if we were without the entertainment factors and the cutsie aberrations we expect from the pulpit, would we still go? (I encourage you to read the book of Acts, and study how the Word was preached with power and anointing, and how the disciples walked upon the earth and what fruit was born of it. Thousands came to the Lord even though there were no studies done, no careful planning and practicing of the how to's of keeping people satisfied, no cushions on the carefully arranged seats, you get my drift...)
If, at each meeting, instead of being an audience waiting to be so entertained by feel good music and charismatic speakers, each one of us was made to step out of our comfort zones to actually participate in the plan and the purpose God had for us, enlarge our tents, and be what God created us to be, would we attend with fervor and expectancy?
What if when we came together, instead of feeling good about ourselves and what we could GET from the hand of God, we were convicted about how we should GIVE, and we were taught to live the principles of true Kingdom building outside the four walls of the church and into the harvest fields around us, would we want to participate?
And to camp here for a moment, the kind of giving I'm talking about transcends the tithe and participating in doings within and around the church building. I'm talking about getting our hands dirty, about sacrificing beyond what may be comfortable. The GOING into all the world that Jesus commanded those who were His disciples to do...
I have this picture in my head...my feet are stuck in the miry clay, and there are many stuck with me. I cannot get myself out, and I can't help anyone else out, although their burdens weigh heavier on my heart than my own. And Jesus comes, grabs my mucky, muddy hands, lifts me out, and sets my feet on a solid rock. I am safe and set free! Instead of gloating about being on the rock, I reach out and grab the mucky and muddy hands of those who are still stuck, and am used of God to help lift them out so that they too can stand on the Solid Rock. This is the sacrificing I'm talking about. Getting beyond ourselves and reaching out, really reaching out and giving out of the blessings we've been given, no matter how difficult or even frightening it may seem.
Did you know that we are ALL called to be missionaries? Mucky, muddy hand grabbers? Right beneath your feet, wherever you go, you are a minister of reconciliation! (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) It's your reasonable service to minister the love, mercy and grace of the Savior to those around you every day! I digress, but not so much...
If instead of coming together and engaging in social pleasantries and chit chat, gossip, backbiting and covert plotting against one another, we met with purpose to join our hearts together in true fellowship, where we would uplift and encourage each other in the Word, foster, nurture, and cultivate the gifts in each other, and made plans to GO and do the greater things Jesus said we would do in His name, how many of us would still be faithful to the meetings?
It's time for the "church" to come out of it's sleepy, comfortable state. The time of lukewarm, feel good, gimme glee club church services are over. Wake up, oh sleeper! The time is short! (1Cor. 7:29-31) Put a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other, and begin to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. (Nehemiah 3:17-18) We only have a few moments left to sow in tears and reap in joy, for the harvest is white NOW. The greatest gift we can give the greatest Giver is to win a soul for His Kingdom. Remember, we are His hands and feet on the earth, not so much to be used by Him as to be useful to Him. It's time to return to the kind of living the disciples lived...going forth in the Spirit's power, unafraid, unashamed, and uncompromisingly proclaiming the truth until He comes...THIS is church!
Matthew 9:36-38 (New King James Version)
36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.