2009-09-27 (am) Mark 2:18-22 New2
I found it interesting that after last week’s sermon, no one responded to the call to grow in their relationship with God, at least not visibly. There weren’t any new people at the second service. Once again, there was just the usual group.
I even heard through the grapevine that the reaction to my challenge was, “He sure wants people to come to the second service.” Actually, that wasn’t the point at all. My point was, everyone needs to grow in their relationship with God. No one has arrived yet. The second service is provided for our benefit. The second service is an opportunity to help us develop our relationship with God. By no means is it the only method available. I’m sure I mentioned other ways as well, such as Bible reading, prayer, devotions, fellowship with other Christians. Time together as families—all of which happen in our worship services.
So while there was a backlash to this idea that we can grow in our relationship with God, no other alternative was given to me. No one visited me in the office this week. No one called me. No one offered to share their preferences.
For, really, when you don’t come to something that your financial gifts pay me to provide, you are indicating that you have some other preference. There is something else that you are doing which is more important.
Now, when I think back to when I wasn’t a pastor, or when I think back to when I was in Grand Rapids and there wasn’t a Sunday evening when I wasn’t preaching, I confess to you that I did not seize the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God by attending a second worship service.
I don’t know your hearts. But I know mine. I was lazy. I didn’t feel like going. I used the excuse that, well I wasn’t a member at any of the churches there, so I didn’t find it necessary. The family I stayed with only went to one service, so I just did what they did.
In all honesty, though, the reason I didn’t go was because I put my preferences, my desires, myself above God. When I thought about going to church, I thought about it in those terms. I thought about it as simply going to that human institution. I thought about it in terms of doing something required of me. I didn’t think of it in terms of meeting with my Saviour. I didn’t think of it in terms of celebrating a feast with my king. I wish I had thought of it that way. I wish I had gone.
Congregation, please don’t misunderstand. If the reactions that were overheard last week are any indication, I wasn’t clear enough. The second service exists for the simple purpose of granting another opportunity to meet with God, to have fellowship with him and with his body, the church.
But be aware that Satan will do everything he can to try to dissuade you from attending. He convince you that you are justified for not going. He will encourage you to think that your disobedience is godly.
We must also be aware that Satan will try to convince those who attend are more holy, or more obedient, or more close to God than other people are. That was the attitude of the Pharisees and disciples of John who came to Jesus. They considered their fasting as bringing them close to God.
But in fact, the opposite was true. For the scriptures show that a literal fast wasn’t the point. God was concerned with their heart.
“‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa. 58:6-7).
And “‘this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other’” (Zech. 7:9-10).