Saturday, September 14, 2013
What happens when need is replaced by something else...
We NEED to be in Church. Worship is not an optional extra but the basic and essential part of the self-discipline of Christian life. It matters not whether worship is exciting, fun, rewarding, etc... Worship is needed. I need it. I need to hear the voice of the Pastor absolving me. I need the counsel of God's Word preached to me (the full counsel of Law and Gospel). I need to commune, to eat the Body of Christ and to drink His blood. I need the koinonia of the Lord's house, people, and table. This has nothing to do with pleasing the Pastor or bolstering weak statistics or any personal self-serving desire or want. It has everything to do with NEED. I must have it. Or.... I will die. Christ's life will wither in me until I am a shell of a person, empty of life, of forgiveness, of hope, and of grace.
When I was a child, my mother called us to the table to eat. It was no invitation. It was a command. It was not to please her but for my own sake. I could not be left to my own devices as to whether or not I wanted to, had something better to do, or would grab something on my own later. I had to be there. Jesus is not some passive character who waits for us to awaken to who He is and what He brings. He calls us. He sends forth His Spirit through His Word. He seeks us out to bring us together with those who also share His name by baptism and who believe in Him. He draws us to Himself -- not for Him or His vanity or His pleasure -- but because we need Him. He gives us what we need or we will DIE!
I am sick and tired of trying to convince people it is worth it to them to come, trying to impress them with what could happen if they did, or trying to make it so special they will want to come. If it is not enough that Christ is here with His gifts that we NEED or we will DIE, what can I do or say that would be more than this urgent cause to lead them to come. Either I have to be there or it does not matter anymore. For if I no longer feel the need to be present around the Word and Table of the Lord, is there any faith left in me? Any of Christ left in me?
I fear that we have given in and made relevance and reward new categories for being in the Divine Service and have turned the whole thing on end. I have often complained of those who missed worship and then asked "Did anything special happen?" Only to be told, "Nah, same old, same old." Really? We have to make it "special" to convince people it is worth going? No. We need to be there, we must be there. That is the reason. Nothing less. I must be there and receive His gifts of grace... or I will DIE! (Maybe not instantaneously but the long, drawn out, death of those who do not even realize they are dying!)