I have been a Christian long enough that I have had many different experiences in the churches that I was planted. After my salvation in 1970 I was a part of a discipleship group with Young Life Ministries for a year during my senior year in high school. I was a part of a couple of churches that really grounded me in the fundamental foundations of being a Christian. Eventually I became a part of a home church with a group of believers that were rediscovering what being a part of the Body of Christ was all about. It was fresh, full of young Christians hungering for intimacy with the Lord, regular fellowship with one another and experiencing worship as we had never had before.
I still have very fond memories of those days. I can still feel the emotions I felt as I recall those days between the years of 1976 and 1980. We may have been learning as we went along but for a good while it was one of the richest experiences I have ever had while being a part of a church.
In the past thirty-nine years I have been a part of three different local churches. Each has positively impacted my life in some way. I have grown through each experience and can truly say I am thankful for them.
For a season now I have had this feeling deep inside my spirit that has simply caused me a lot of restlessness. It has been like a hollow feeling on the inside that nothing can touch. It has been gnawing at me for so long. I have queried many times “Why do I feel like this?” and “What is the answer?” I known there is a specific reason but I have not been able to resolve it until today!
So many times when things do not feel right at the church we are a part of we want to make a list of what is wrong. We want to say it is leadership, music, whether people are friendly or unfriendly, etc. Today so many churches have chosen to cater to people so much that they have to make sure they have the right type of coffee for them every Sunday, make sure they play songs that don’t offend, keep the service short so everyone can get out in time to do lunch early. The list could probably include dozens of things churches do to keep everyone happy but you probably get the idea.
Today as I was reading the second chapter of a book by Francis Chan called Letters to the Church he addressed the topic of Sacredness. I then went on to the third chapter and as I was reading I had that moment when I knew the problem was that I am longing for the sacred. Longing for the ONE thing that can truly meet every need of my soul, and that is regular, deep worship and reverence of Him who is holy. That is the meaning of sacred…..Being worthy of religious veneration; reverence, worship, holy.
Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Isaiah 57:15 says, “For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: “I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” We were designed by our Creator to have a deep relationship with Him but today we all tend to have more of a “drive-thru” relationship instead of being shut up in our prayer rooms in reverence and worship.
Also, we have also lost the art of what the first church experienced when they gathered together regularly. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Act 2:42-47. Yes, I understand this was 2,000 years ago and that our culture has changed. However, we have lost the intimacy over the last few decades because we have become victims of the culture. Instead of being counter-cultural we have blended in and thus we are less potent in a society today that is truly in need of Jesus.
The outflow of what occurred in the New Testament church was what caused the growth. Not plans, not programs, not gimmicks! it was just unadulterated, Jesus loving people coming together and genuinely worshiping the Lover of their souls and the word began to spread of what was happening. Today we have broken people in our churches and outside our churches and what will change church culture is when we once again embrace holiness.
This is why we were created: to have relationship with our Creator. Intimacy was snatched out of our hands by sin and Jesus came to get it back. If we are born again, we are His friends, because of that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we have the privilege to worship the God who loved us before the foundation of the world.
I want to take all the steps necessary to cultivate a new lifestyle of acknowledging the sacredness of the God I serve. I want to experience intimacy as I bow before Him declaring His holiness and my continuous need for Him to change me. Will you join me on the journey? I believe we can recapture what has been loss through our repentance and humility while we acknowledge that it is all by His grace. GRACE-God’s ability in me, doing what I am not able to do.
Living by the brook,