As I sometimes do, I did a search through my online journal to see what thoughts I was thinking in the past about a passage I read today. Hovering over Psalm 26 this morning, about walking in integrity particularly, but my soul was stirred a bit by a 2014 post on drawing near to what we worship.
At first the post grabbed me because of the “buddy” it brings to remembrance. A dear friend who’s about to move out of the area. One of those guys who, while we don’t connect on a frequent basis, we are just connected — kind of kindred spirits with a season of shared experience that’s created what feels like a bond for a lifetime.
But then the post strikes a chord about how we think about the “main event” on a Sunday by Sunday basis. Today, for too many I think, drawing near to the place where the glory dwells is equated with drawing near to a screen. That God’s house has become confused with our house. That we think the place where the glory dwells is where we dwell and not in the place where the body of Christ gathers (Eph. 2:21-22).
Don’t get me wrong, not saying there aren’t legitimate reasons to avoid crowds and take precautions. But for too many, I fear, it’s less about safety protocols and more about a risk / reward perception. Every time we leave the house to do anything in a public place we are making a risk / reward determination. So, when we decide to “gather virtually”, it’s a determination that the risk of gathering as the church is greater than the perceived reward of being the church. But if the gathering of the saints really is the place where the glory of God dwells, then what risk is worth such reward? Again, not wanting to judge anyone and their determination before God to meet with the people of God — but would be lying if I said I didn’t suspect some are being more motivated by convenience than caution.
Anyway, 8 years ago my thoughts were around how gathering for Sunday Meeting should stack up against gathering for Sunday’s Super Bowl. That we’ll want to draw near to what we worship. Think it’s as true today as it was then. And worth noodling on, I think.
By His grace. For His glory.
Here’s the 2014 post . . .
Had lunch with a buddy yesterday . . . he wore his Denver Broncos gear . . . punk! Talk about drawing some attention! A guy who was leaving the restaurant and opened the door for us, the one wearing a Seahawks jersey, spit out in disbelief, “Broncos!?!” . . . the girl who seated us, wearing her Seahawks t-shirt, did a double take when she saw my buddy’s jacket. And then, I thought our waiter was ready to pay for our food himself as he went on about how he’s been a die-hard Raiders fan his whole life and thinks that Seahawks fans are fair weather fans . . .so go Broncos! Brother!
That sparked a conversation between my buddy and I as we waited for our lunch. Something like . . . how, for many people, the game has given way to becoming a god. The players are revered . . . the 12th man flag has become a banner under which people find their identify . . . the logo has become a coat of arms to which men and women pledge allegiance. And the stadiums . . . well they are the temples. My buddy mentioned the lengths to which some will go, and the price they will pay, in order to travel across the country to be there this weekend, because “I need to be with my team.” Brother, again!
Don’t get me wrong. I am more than intrigued by the big game this weekend. There will be a gathering at our home Sunday afternoon to enter into the madness a bit. I think it would be great if the home town team should win the game. But, it is just a game.
So, why am I going on about this? Reading in the Psalms this morning, I reminded that I shouldn’t be surprised by some of the over-the-top behaviors of some fans because what we worship we draw near to.
O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house
and the place where Your glory dwells.
(Psalm 26:8 ESV)
David loved going to the temple. The place where the LORD’s glory dwelt was the place He wanted to draw near to. God’s presence should draw God’s people. Where He is found in the midst, is where we should want to be found as part of the gathering. We draw near to that which we worship. The “main event” on Sunday isn’t the “big game.”
There’s a much bigger deal happening this Sunday than the Super Bowl. Should the Lord not come before then, the people of God will be assembling under the banner of God, to know the presence of God, through their worship of God. The holy temple formed by living stones “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22) will come together . . . and the sacrifice of the fruit of our lips, praise, will ascend as a sweet smelling aroma to heaven’s throne room . . . the word of God will be proclaimed and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth . . . and the glory of God will descend. No price of admission to be paid . . . our entrance secured through the blood of the Lamb. Ours is but to come . . . ours is to draw near. O’ how I love the habitation of Your house, Your living house, the place where Your glory dwells, O’ Lord.
I’m all for watching the game . . . but it’s just a game . . . and its gods are no gods.
So pumped by the anticipation of drawing near again to the glory . . . of gathering with the redeemed . . . for our God is God alone.
Doesn’t really matter what logo we bear on our clothes . . . but that the people of God would bear the stamp of His kingdom on our lives . . . and that we would love the habitation of His house . . . and pursue the place . . . no, that we would pursue the people where His glory dwells. That what we worship would be known by what we draw near to.