A PASTOR in America once addressed his congregation, “If we were going to a concert, we will be there 2 hours earlier waiting in anticipation. If we have a very important business appointment at 3pm, we will be there at 2.30pm and well prepared. How come when we are scheduled to meet the King of kings in church as a congregation of His people on Sunday, many of us come in nonchalantly, unexcited and late?”
I suppose the pastor in his frustration uttered some words that would have ruffled a few feathers amongst his church members and might have caused some to murmur on his perceived lack of grace, his lack of understanding on unavoidable situations. And some might even have called him judgmental.
Yet, if we are honest, this can, indeed, be the attitude of any middle-class urban church where everyone seems to be very busy with loads of urgent things and there is this daily struggle to make time for God, including on a Sunday – as if God is not our All in All, our Everything in our lives.
In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Lord taught the prophet Samuel a very important lesson
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him (Eliab). The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Indeed the Lord always looks at the heart and He fully understands all our struggles and pains. But, sadly, many (including myself) may have used the truth about the Lord looking at the heart to justify our behaviour or motives that clearly seem adverse to the holy, gracious and obedient life we are called to.
In Proverbs 27:19, it is written:
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
This verse tells us how we live and how we behave reflect the contents of our hearts. If our hearts have reverent fear of our Sovereign and Mighty God, our lives will show it. If our hearts are after God’s own heart, our lives will show it. If our hearts love the things of the Lord, our lives will show it. If our hearts are obedient to God, our lives will show it. If our heart’s desire is to bring glory to God, our lives will show it.
I started this short write-up by telling the story of the pastor who was frustrated by his church’s lackadaisical attitude towards congregational worship on Sunday.
Another pastor observes that, “the heart of the problem for most churches is the problem of the heart”.
Do we face the same issues in BGC on a Sunday? Do we have a heart problem? Some might say yes, some might say no.
Don’t get me wrong. This simple write up is not intended to be judgmental or to be ungracious to some of us who come late to church regularly or who find it hard to come prepared or excited for congregational worship of our great God on Sunday. We may have many valid reasons and very real and difficult struggles. If so, we can only ask for our Lord’s abounding grace and power to help us overcome these struggles.
However, I’m writing to encourage us to rethink that as much as the Lord looks at our hearts, He also cares deeply about the way we live, the way we behave, the way we trust in Him, our attitude when we worship Him and in all areas of our lives, whether it is on a Sunday or any other day in our lives.
I, therefore, pray that as we ponder on our lives and in our desire to live lives worthy of Christ as individuals and as a church, we, too, can be like the Psalmist who opens up his heart (the heart that the Lord already sees and knows about) in all honesty and cries out in humility to God in Psalms 139: 23-24:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
In Christ’s love & humility,