Photo Credit: © Andy Dean – Fotolia.com
OK, it’s true. I’m having a gripe. It’s grumpy pastor time. But if you want to know what your pastor is really thinking… read on!
Now on the one hand it’s true, we have much for which we can give thanks to God. At Hills Bible Church God has done amazing things. He has worked in our lives to save us from our sins and bring us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves. We have fellowship with each other as we serve the living and true God, and wait for his Son to return from heaven. There are individuals who work so hard, giving their time, in music, administration, teaching, caring, and so on. The list could go on. There is much for which we can give thanks to God.
Perhaps then the gripe is a matter of perspective, especially when it comes to sin. Most of us Christians think we understand the doctrine of sin. I sincerely doubt that! Do we really understand the sinfulness of sin? Do we understand the blackness of our hearts? Do we realise how heinous it is to fall even slightly short of God’s perfect standards of holiness in all that we do and say and think? These days I keep hearing Christians excuse ourselves on the basis of God’s work in us by his Spirit. The latter is true (God is at work in us to change us), but the former is also true (we are still desperately sinful).
Voluntary activities at church are a real eye-opener. I wonder if many of us come to activities out of habit, duty, and so on. That might not be such a bad thing in some respects. Many of us come to church on Sunday, go to Bible study groups mid-week, go to the committees we are on, etc. The eye-opener then is to see what happens with the optional, voluntary activity. How keen are we? How keen are we to know God; to study his Word; to come before him in prayer and praise?
Our church has monthly prayer meetings. In my mind they are not much different from weekly Sunday services. However that’s clearly not how most folk view them. They are woefully attended.
Recently, while we had a month and half break from Bible study groups, there was a three week Bible study series. Some folk were away; many of us were not away. The studies and discussions were stimulating, challenging and enjoyable. But they were woefully attended. I wonder if there were many folk from our church – wonderful Christians too – who were a stone’s throw away watching TV?
We are utterly sinful. We underestimate just how sinful we are. We should be banging down the doors to go to Bible study and prayer meetings, but we see them as a drag. We should be hungry for time with God, but we see it as a chore. Where is our zeal? Where is our commitment? We commit to work because we must. But church is voluntary. When church commitments become habits, we attend regularly. Otherwise…
Do we have gospel priorities? Are our priorities the building up of our church kingdom we have formed? Or do we have gospel priorities: where we long to hear God’s word, long to pray, long to see people come to know God, long to live to please God in every moment we have?
I know what the answer should be – for me and for you. But we are luke-warm and utterly sinful. The sooner we realise that the sooner we can repent, and seek God in his word and in prayer.