He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rivalries of the Christian Life

        Anyone who watched the Super Bowl Game knows how excited every spectator in the stadium was. Sides were chosen, positions set from the first face off until the final play of the game. The orange and white colors of the Denver Broncos and red, white and blue of the New England Patriots were vividly displayed.  People passionately screamed and hollered words of encouragement (or disapproval), jumped up and down and waved their flags with arms punching the air with exuberance during the game, hoping their team would be the victor. Adrenaline levels at the game was nearly tangible.

         Imagine what it would be like to attend a church service where the enthusiasm level is almost palpable, where all the people in attendance are in sync with the activities, where the body is all in attendance for the singular purpose of worship.  Where people are in communion with God and demonstrate joy, love and fellowship with every other person there.  Where people sing with gusto from their souls with tears running down the cheeks from repentant hearts. Can you even envision such an event in your sanctuary?

Many services are dry and so structured, the evidence of Christ even being in their midst, is weak at best.  I’ve been in services where we read from the bulletin responsively, the pastor read his sermon with little or no passion and music had no joy. The words were being sung, but there was little or no enthusiasm.  They weren’t singing with their heart, only their voice! Is this worship? 

What is the church’s greatest rival?  If we take it a level further, what is God’s greatest rival in our personal lives? Honestly, it’s much the same as “the church” at large as we put our material and personal desires ahead of God.  Surely the instant answer is satan and sin, but in what form?  Golf or other sport? Work? Sleeping?  Shopping? Addictions like alcohol, substance abuse, gambling, porn or a hundred other kinds available to nearly everyone. Anger? Bitterness? Selfishness? Television?   There are likely hundreds of different rivals available for anyone searching.

It’s interesting to note, while many will admit to being drawn to any one of these potential “lures” from church and God in our lives, few will admit any such behavior “owns” them.  Most will tell you they could walk away from any of the worldly enticements without any effort, yet in the same breath announce they are planning an “excursion” for any of those mentioned in just a few days or over the next weekend, again taking them away from fellowship with other believers. 

It’s assumed the “occasional” detour is not a problem and perhaps it isn’t.  But often that “occasional” detour turns into more frequent ones until the “enticement” dominates the thought process and demands attention. ---At the expense of God and fellowship with other believers.

I challenge you to consider how you spend your time and when.  Do your activities over rule going to church at the scheduled times?  Are your “addictions” slowly moving closer and closer to the forefront of your life?  Is it time to make a change?