I have a lot of conversations between myself and others in my head. Unfortunately, those conversations usually never happen in real life. In fact, some people would call me quiet and maybe even stand-offish. My problem is knowing what to say when I need to say it. If I do say so myself, I’m quite eloquent at getting my point across to anyone…after they’ve gone away.
So, what I’m about to write is a combination of several in-depth conversations that I never had outside my own head. It could come out as complete insanity, or complete genius. But, probably, it will just be my brain dumped out before you. Enjoy.
This past week, via Facebook, I read/heard a comment that I’ve heard [insert cliché phrase to communicate, “way too much” here]. That comment was, “I don’t want to go to church because….”
You can end that phrase however you want. I’ll bet you’ve even used it once or 50 times.
I have too.
I used to react with anxiety at that attitude toward weekend worship. Something along the lines of, “[Gasp!] We must make you WANT to come. How can we serve better lattes, better music, better preaching, less preaching, more candles, less stuffiness, more stuffiness, less sin, more sin, good Jesus, angry Jesus, aghhhhh!”
I’m over that.
Now, my reaction to, ‘I don’t want to go to church/worship.’ is … “Okay.”
Last time I checked, worship wasn’t invented for you or me. God invented it. And it’s for God. If we don’t want to worship God, then I can’t imagine he wants our half-hearted, complaining, yawning, annoyed selves, sitting in a pew, taking up space, believing that what we’re doing is true worship.
You have my permission. Stay home.
By entering into an event specifically created to be about God, with our heart, mind, and energy focused on ourselves and what we’d rather be doing, we cheat everyone around us, we cheat ourselves, and we cheat God.
It’s okay. You won’t go to Hell. Stay in bed.
You see, worship has been wrongly deemed the ultimate church experience. It is not. It is the culminating experience. Everything else—discipleship, mission, service, community, evangelism, meditation, etc. (all of which you do not have my permission to skip) leads up to worship.
If you haven’t experienced God, you have no reason to worship Him. And to try would be fraud.
The only place that, “I don’t want to go to church” comes from, is a heart that has not experienced a God worth worshiping this week.
Maybe your toddler vomited on you one too many times.
Maybe your priorities could use a reboot.
Maybe you’re jaded.
Maybe you’re self-righteous.
Maybe you’re self-loathing.
Maybe you’re normal. And this week, you failed to listen when God whispered. You didn’t see him when your child smiled. You didn’t fall back in love with him as you zipped past your Bible. You just didn’t.
It’s okay. Breathe.
While our God is always near, always worth our worship, always invading our existence with blessing, we are feeble, broken and blind. These things affect our worshiping attitude and sometimes overcome our desire to please God.
It’s not pretty or good. But it’s reality.
So, again, if you don’t want to worship, don’t. But, know that the life that can’t worship right now is the life that would most glorify God in this mucked up world we live in, if it found a way back to a place where its greatest desire was to bless God.
If you want to desire God again, or for the first time, it’s important that you be honest. Where are you? And why?
Maybe, start this week, not with Sunday worship, but with serious, honest prayer, and listen like you never have before. God’s amazing whether you’re in the pew to tell Him that or not. Maybe this week, let Him prove it to you, and next week, go worship.
And that concludes our tour of my brain for the week. Please remember to pick up your belongings as you exit.