Yes, you read that right. “Idle” worship. It’s what I have termed the act of going to church and being a non-participant in all aspects of the service. Completely unengaged in what should be one of the most sacred, beautiful times of the believing community. Instead, we sit idly by and say, “We are not amused”. We make excuses for our mental and spiritual laziness. How do I know this? I have done this very thing, my friend. Can I just tell you this: idle worship is a heart issue. It’s my heart issue.
Recently, Donald Miller wrote a blog post that caused quite a stir. You can read it here: http://storylineblog.com/2014/02/03/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-i-connect-with-him-elsewhere/
Miller wrote this in his opening paragraph:
“I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.
I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.”
Miller goes on to write his reasons for not attending church. He can’t remember sermons, he doesn’t like to sing, it’s not his learning style, etc. I don’t recall every having seen the words “I”, “my” and “me” used so much in an article that was supposedly about church.
Here is a newsflash: Church is not about you! Church is not about me!
Church is about “WE”. Church is community.
As I have thought about my own heart and the Donald Miller article; I came to realize that the gathering of believers in one location, church, is about three main things: Loving, leaning and learning. (Catchy alliteration, yes?)
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits for believers meeting corporately. (Secretly, I ran out of “L” words)
1. Loving: Church is about loving God first and then, loving others. Worship, thanksgiving, and even tithing are all acts that we participate in to love the Lord. Loving each other is loving God. Is it difficult to love those flawed people sitting in the rows of the church? Yes and amen! What better place for flawed and sinful people to be than in a house of healing? Church is where we learn to love other flawed people, like ourselves; so, we can go out into the world and love.
- John 15:17 This is my command: Love each other.
- 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
- Psalm 48:9 O God, we mediate on your unfailing love as we worship in your temple.
- Psalm 100:4-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
- Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
- Acts 2:46 They worshiped together at the Temple, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.
2. Leaning: Church is about leaning on each other. We cannot do it alone. We need accountability, fellowship, prayer, encouragement, correction: we need all aspects of community. Those who try to stand alone can be taken down in trials when there is no one to help or provide counsel. Those who are sick, in body and spirit, need prayer. God doesn’t call us to do life alone. Church is about the body of Christ coming together to strengthen, encourage and challenge each other.
- Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—all the more as you see the day approaching.
- Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
- James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
- Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
3. Learning: Church is about learning. Learning about God, His will and how to apply His Word in our every day lives. Have you learned everything you possibly learn from God’s Word? I know I certainly haven’t. In fact, the more I study; the more I find that there is so much more truth in God’s Word than I will ever be able to uncover, absorb and apply in my lifetime. Learning strengthens your faith, prepares you for daily battles, informs you of right & wrong, and gives discernment when you hear false doctrine or worldly teaching.
- Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
- Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
- Psalm 119:9,15 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word…I meditate on your precepts and consider your way.
- Titus 1:9 …hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
- Ephesians 6:12-18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after your have done everything, stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in min, be alerts and always keep on pryaing for all the Lord’s people.
I will confess to you that I sometimes have difficulty motivating myself mentally and spiritually to go to church on Sunday. I belong to a fantastic church. We have wonderful music, Biblical teaching, great youth programs, lots of community outreach, Bible studies during the week, etc. I have difficulty getting motivated because I am spiritually and physically lazy at times. I want to turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep. BUT I get up and go! I know my children are watching my example and I want to live in obedience to the Lord. I am always glad and my soul is refreshed and encouraged when I obey.
I have been in church and been completely distracted. I have allowed outside things to take over my thoughts. Again, a heart and mind issue. I have some action steps that I take in order to combat my tendency to be distracted.
- Listen to worship music. I do this while I’m getting ready for church. It helps my mind and heart to focus on the Lord before I even get into the sanctuary.
- Actively listen to the sermon. Take notes, look up the complete Bible reference. Ask yourself “What can I apply to my life this week?” There is always room to grow.
- Attitude of expectation. If I go into church expecting NOTHING; then NOTHING is what I will get. If I go in expecting to gain Biblical wisdom, or healing or fellowship; then I will receive those things. Low expectations = low return.
- Sing along I can hear some of you now. “But I’m not a good singer” Who cares? It’s a JOYFUL noise not a “perfect pitch noise”. If you really just can’t sing; then close your eyes and meditate on the words of the songs. Say them as a prayer.
- Be a giver Church is not and should not be a spectator sport. Be an active participant by giving. Yes, I’m talking about money but I’m also talking about giving in other ways. Help in the nursery for one service, then attending the other service. Ask where you can serve in your church. Don’t be a taker. Be a giver.
Do I struggle sometimes with my lazy self? Yes. Am I tempted to give in to stay home and not honor the Lord? Yes. I know that I am not alone in this.
I know there are times when going to church is just not possible. I have four children. Believe me, I know. But whenever it is possible, please, GO! You will be blessed!
Colossians 3:15-16 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as your teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.