In modern worship, it sometimes appears that we have confused the call to the contrite sinner to come to Christ with the call to the grateful believer to worship Him. “Come just as you are” is a beautiful invitation to lost souls needing forgiveness, healing, and restoration. We come to Christ with empty hands. We have nothing to offer Him that is worthy of Him, but through His grace and righteousness, we land in a place of great worth; we become heirs with Him. It is a mystery that none who is earthbound can truly grasp: being “in Christ.”
What has me puzzled is not our coming to Christ just as we are when we receive the precious gift of salvation, but rather our nonchalant attitude when we come to worship this glorious Savior who has so purposely and mercifully rescued us. We show up to honor Him and enter His very presence wearing flip-flops, drinking coffee, and strolling in fifteen minutes late. We are not lacking in thankfulness for what He has done, but is this the impression we project with our careless entrance to worship?
We know the Lord sees our hearts, whereas man sees only what is external. Because this is true, ought we to be careful with what we represent to man? We question how one should dress up or dress down for worship, and some churches start their services at “11ish” in an effort to be relaxed or culturally cool and appealing to the lost. In certain cultures, late arrivals are simply a part of life, but in our society, tardiness is actually considered unprofessional, rude and disrespectful. If we are late to a job interview, we won’t get the job. If someone is late to a first date, there probably won’t be a second one!
This is not an essay meant to step on any specific toes, but here are some questions for all of us: Are we late to our workplaces when most job sites expect punctuality and professionalism? Do we put our best foot forward Monday through Friday, only to casually enter a worship service Sunday morning as if we were meeting a friend for coffee? Where are our hearts and minds as we prepare our bodies to enter a time of worship? What is our main priority through the week and especially on the weekend? Do we walk into the sanctuary with the reality that we are about to face a holy God? Do we come expecting to pour out ourselves and to meet with and worship our sovereign Creator? Or is Sunday morning simply a part of our weekly calendar? Is it a portion of our week that is much like any other time? Is it possible that we value other activities equally or—worse—do we value them more than what should be the most treasured experience of our week? What hidden messages are we sending to our children when we get them to basketball practice on time, but we never enter the sanctuary of worship punctually?
Of course we must be approachable to those who do not know Christ. Let us freely extend our hearts and hands to a needy and dying world. May we show them Who He is in every way possible, including how we worship Him and how we value Him. We can do this by making it known that He is our first priority. He is worth our highest efforts. He deserves our personal best. We are set apart from the world, and should not resemble it. Why would the lost want what they already have? Do we hold too lightly in our hands what we have been graciously given: the call to worship Jesus Christ?
Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and joy are in His place.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the Lord in holy array (1 Chronicles 16:23-29).
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