It’s Sunday (or Wednesday or whichever day you happen to find yourself heading to the Lord’s house) and you and your family had decided earlier that today you’d all dress a little nicer to show a little bit more respect for Him than you usually do.
Anyway, you arrive at your beautiful little/medium/large/gargantuan family’s church and think, “Wow! Isn’t this a beautiful place where we worship our Lord and Savior! The grass is manicured; the shrubs have been sculpted to look just like angels; the gravel in the playground is all inside the rail road ties; in a word … gorgeous!” You feel more alive just for being on the campus.
Then you walk inside the foyer (don’t’cha just love that word … foyer?) and admire the paint colors that the painting committee selected in only six 90 minute sessions; the furniture that the furniture committee picked out after only seventeen trips to Atlanta area custom furniture stores; the carpet that … well … you get the idea. And then there’s the sanctuary! Same, same and same. The piano is on the correct side of the platform; the musical instruments are arranged properly to show respect for … whoever; the screen(s) are projecting a succession of informative and tastefully done messages concerning upcoming events.
And then the music starts! It’s all melodic and familiar and traditional and wonderful! The volume is just right and the artists whose work has been selected for your worship experience are all tasteful and perfect for your enjoyment!
Then the Pastor steps up on the platform and you think, “Oh boy! This is gonna be good! He’s always right on topic with whatever it is that’s most important to me, and he always tells just the right joke! The man is simply a genius! A real showman!”
Then it’s time for the offering … but you’ve already sent your tithe in … just as you do every month. You think, “Why do these schleps wait until the service to give?” as you watch them put their pittance in the brass plate with the red velvet circle in the middle (placed there so that coins don’t make a distracting noise when they drop them in).
By the end of the worship service, which by-the-way is just long enough because you’ve started feeling a bit hungry, you feel that all is right with the world and you’ve done your duty for another week. It certainly is turning out to have been worth it to go to the extra effort of dressing a little nicer to show a bit more respect for Him than you usually do. Simply, the perfect worship experience!
Or is it?
Believe it or not, the reason for us to come to church isn’t about us. It’s about us coming to thank God for … well … everything! Everything we have and will ever have and everything we are and will ever be is because of Him! Without Him, there wouldn’t be an us at all! And all the things that are important to us about our worship experience … well, let’s just call them what they are. They’re idols. The paint, the furniture, the carpet, where the piano is … and please don’t get me started on the music. I know a pastor who, when a member of his church came to him and requested that certain music be played during the service, he informed her that if she needed that music to enjoy her worship experience, then it was an idol and they would therefore have no music during the service!
First off, I personally think that, so long as you use common sense, the way you dress when you come to church matters as much to God as do the “good” works that I’m sure that you do as compared to the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins.
In other words … not at all.
When’s the last time that you noticed something like the railing on the stairs to your Sunday School class was loose? Did you get a screwdriver and tighten it up? When you saw trash in the parking lot or in a hallway, did you pick it up and throw it away? Does the foyer (there’s that word again) have some paint that’s cracked or chipping? Did you organize a crew to re-paint it?
If you haven’t gotten it yet, let me spell it out for you: When you are in the Lord’s house, everything that you do in it (within reason) should be an act of worship! If it needs fixed, fix it! If it needs cleaned, clean it! And when your church family needs loving, love them. There should be no bickering over the trivial things that I mentioned above or anything else for that matter. We should all be striving to make the experience that the whole body of Christ has within the walls of our church a great one. I mean, you do realize that the “church” is the people who worship in it, right? The building, without people, is nothing but an empty shell … just as our bodies will be when our souls have left them to enter into the glory of Heaven!
And, when it comes to the members of the church that you don’t particularly care for, just remember that they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They, along with anyone who has ever been a member of “your” church and anyone who will ever be a member. In fact, everyone who calls themselves a believer is your family. And before you go judging them for not being as “good” a Christian as you are, remember that it’s your responsibility to educate them when and where you are able.
“With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10
G.J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his new novel, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 available on Amazon for Kindle. www.mirroredman.com