“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
In Hosea, God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute who continues to cheat on him to show how Israel continues to prostitute herself as a nation with other gods. I know. Kinda brutal. But so is adultery and prostituting yourself with other gods.
In this book you can literally feel the heartbreak of a God who longs and loves a people who continue to cheat on him. Now, it wasn’t that the Israelites were not offering sacrifices or keeping their holy days. They were doing all those things while they were pursuing other lovers.
What God wanted from the Israelites was their hearts, their loyalty, their allegiance, their fidelity, their love. It is absolutely possible to go through the motions of religion while being absolutely distant in heart.
I share this with you because I have a confession to make. I found myself going through the motions of reading the Bible, praying, and journaling everyday while my heart remained distant. Even while I was reading God’s word and praying I acted as if God weren’t even there! Can you imagine? God sitting right across the table from me as I am reading his word and praying to him, and totally ignoring him and acting as if he weren’t even there?!?!
Goodness gracious!!! What an idiot!!!
So, every time I read God’s word and every time I pray, I talk to him as if he’s really there. You know why? BECAUSE HE IS!!!!!
So, the next time you read God’s word and pray to him, won’t you read and pray as if he were really right there with you? You know why? Because he is!
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Yay! You showed up! You’re here! Well done!!!
The way some people go to Sunday worship, they act like they are doing God a favor by showing up. Hey, look at me. I’m here. You ought to praise me for being here. Didn’t I do a good thing by just showing up?
In what relational setting would that work?
Marriage – “Hey honey. I’m home. Praise me for being here. Acknowledge how awesome it is that I showed up at the house.”
Friendship – “Hey, I’m here. Look at me. I showed up. Aren’t you glad I’m here!”
Yeah. That wouldn’t fly.
It’s not enough for Christians to show up in worship. Showing up is expected. That’s what Christians do. Christians worship. There’s nothing special about that. That is the bare minimum.
Our text tells us the goal of Christian spirituality:“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ“
“to equip us for works of service”
“to build up the body of Christ”
“to reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God”
“to become mature”
“to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”
The purpose of Christian spirituality is to grow up. The church is in absolute trouble if she has a hard time getting people to show up. If the church is praising people for showing up????….oh my! Of course you show up for your family. Of course you show up for your marriage. Of course you show up for your friendship. These are expected!
Grow up. Grow up. Grow up.
I thank God for you Little Church and Lakewoodgrace. You are fantastic about showing up so that God can build up his church. Way to go!!!
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
We are created and saved for a purpose. God saves us in Jesus Christ as that we might live into the purpose for which we were created. We are most fully alive when we are doing what God created and saved us to do. What is that? To join God in his kingdom work. That’s what we were created for and that’s why God saves us in Jesus Christ.
The following is a story of Niccolo Paganini and his violin. I wish I wrote down who the author was, but I didn’t! So, just know that I am not the author of the following story. I share with you the story of Niccolo Paganini’s violin because it’s a perfect illustration of what we were created for.
Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) has been called the greatest violinist who ever lived. He astounded audiences by performing an entire sonata on a single string. In one piece, “Variations for the Fourth String,” he used a harmonic technique to reach a note three octaves beyond what that string could normally produce – a note no other violinist could reach. He amazed and delighted thousands of music lovers during his lifetime.
Paganini willed his favorite violin, which he called il mio cannone violino (my cannon violin), to the city of Genoa. He placed only one condition on his bequest: No one would ever be allowed to play it. So the cherished violin was displayed in a display case. Unfortunately, violins do not age well in a display case. A finely crafted instrument needs to be exercised regularly to maintain its beauty and tone. Paganini’s violin was drying out and cracking from lack of use until the city decided to violate the terms of the will and allow the instrument to be played from time to time.
So it is with you and me. God did not create us to be museum pieces, placed behind glass as silent exhibits of his grace. He created us to be used daily for his glory and for the blessing of others. We can never become what he intends us to be until we allow him to use as he intends.