Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why we need to be in church tomorrow

Well, here it is, Saturday already. That means tonight is bath night for tomorrow morning is church time.

I sure hope you will be in church tomorrow morning.

People who don't go to church (and some who do) don't get the reason for church. It is this: Worship, pure and simple, of the Great God Almighty.

Some years back, I ran the Westminster Shorter Catechism over the course of many days on the editorial page of the daily newspaper I edited.

The first question of that catechism was “What is the chief end of man?” That is another way of saying, “What is the main reason we are here?”

And the answer was “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.”
There were scripture references to prove that truth.

Last year, I read a book by Dr. N.T. Wright, some high-up theologian in The Anglican Church over in Great Britain, who said the Great God Almighty expects to be worshipped.

Now, although I am not worth a hoot or a holler as a follower of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and am usually out yee-hawing on Saturday night (or, wait, maybe all that yee-hawing is just in my mind as I sit and watch the cowboys shooting and fighting in the black-and-white saloon on my TV screen), I generally am in a church someplace on Sunday morning, for I believe the catechism and Dr. Wright are right and that the Great God Almighty wants me to worship Him.

I have heard many people say they can worship Him in a boat or on a stream bank or sitting in their backyard just as well as they can in church.

Well, I doubt it. In fact, I don’t believe a word of it. When you tell me that, I think you are full of something, I shall not say what. Seriously, I think the only place you can worship the Great God Almighty is in a gathering. Seriously, again, I don’t think you have the willpower to sit sing or chant praises to the Great God Almighty and to meditate on scripture and to think about what God has done in your life, all while you are sitting in a boat throwing out a line early on the Lord's Day, or sitting in the back of your pickup on a Saturday night or Sunday night listening to your coon dogs or while you’re walking amongst the beautiful flowers in your backyard, drinking a cup of coffee on Sunday morning.

I think you have to be in the middle of a community of believers, focused on worshipping You Know Who, because He is worth your undivided attention.

Now, there are a lot of churches in town and the surrounding area, so you are sure to find one where you are comfortable attending. Even I, who fit in no where with no one, have found one where I fit in enough that they haven’t kicked me out. (I don’t attend Bible study with them, but that is a whole other story that has been told elsewhere.) If I can find a church to worship the Great God Almighty, you certainly can.

Speaking of Him, I believe the reporter in The Bible who wrote that “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke throughout history through prophets has lately spoken unto us by his Son .. who (is) the very image of (him).” In other words, I believe Jesus Christ was the Great God Almighty in the flesh. I believe He lived a perfect life, died on a cross and somehow that was to take the punishment for my sins, not His because He didn’t have any, and then rose up alive. It’s that rising up that we are fixing to celebrate tomorrow morning, just like we do every Sunday morning.

I am a sinner, a terrible sinner. If you knew the thoughts in my head, you would be shocked. Of course, I’d probably be shocked if I knew the thoughts in you head. Nevertheless, I like to read about Jesus in the four Gospels, because He has some interesting and mysterious things to say. For instance, there’s a story about Jesus going over to eat at the house of a high-and-mighty preacher. The reporter who tells the story says that Jesus turned to his host and said, “When you put on a dinner, don’t invite friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors! For they will return the invitation.  Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who can’t repay you.”

The reporter goes on to say that the man sitting at the table with Jesus said, “Boy, howdy, What a privilege it would be to get into the Kingdom of God!”

And then Jesus replied with a story that went something like this: “A rich ole boy from Rolla prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations to the fine and important people of the community.  When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to arrive.  But they all began making excuses. One big businessman said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it to get it ready to build a big commercial building, and asked to be excused. Another, an engineering professor up at the university, said he had just bought a powerful new car and wanted to take it out for a drive on the interstate, maybe run up to St. Louis for the weekend to see a ball game and eat on the Hill. Another fellow said he had had just been married and, well, (wink, wink) you know, he couldn’t attend a dinner on a special night like that.

“So, the servant came back and told his master what everybody said. The rich man was angry and told him to go up and down the streets and alleys of Rolla and find all the beggars, crippled, lame, and blind. But even then, there was still room.

“ ‘Well, then,’ said the master to the servant, ‘go around to the parks and behind the shopping centers and over in the woods by the interstate and find the homeless people and invite them to the big banquet. Go out into the country lanes and out behind the hedges, go around to all the bars in Rolla, Newburg and St. James and invite those drunks; find all the meth-heads and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.  For none of those big-wigs I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them.’”

That is in Luke 14:12-24 of The Living Bible (Ozarks Boy Paraphrase). You can look it up and read it for yourself. But isn’t that something? What do you make of that story Jesus told? Does Jesus really mean that? What the heck DOES he mean, anyway?

I kind of get the idea he means that when God calls you to come spend time with Him, then you better come and spend time with Him. Don’t think you’ve got something better to do like look over your property or run up to St. Louis or tickle your new wife or go to some egg-drop or ball-game or rat-killing. Get together at the Lord’s table with the other folks and focus on Him. Otherwise, he’ll just forget you and find some other sinners to lavish his gifts on.

That’s what I think on this day before Easter, but I could be wrong, for I am only a Shade-Tree Theologian, just a big, fat, old, profane, loud-mouthed sinner who is going to be in church Sunday morning thanking and praising (and trying to hear from) the Great God Almighty.

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