Listen to the things people say about why they worship where they worship, or what makes that place appealing to them.
“I love the singing there.”
“The preacher is so easy for me to listen to.”
“I feel so good when I leave.”
“Everyone is so friendly and loving to me.”
“They came to visit me while I was in the hospital.”
Okay, so maybe a few of them are not terrible reasons, but do you see a common denominator in them all? It’s all about me and how I feel.
Why is it you never hear things like this?
“I go because my God expects me to be a part of a group worship and accountable to a group of brethren and godly elders.”
“I go so I can provoke others to love and good works as the Bible says.”
“I go to study God’s Word and this group actually studies the Bible instead of some synod’s pamphlet.”
“The sermons often step on my toes, but I want to be challenged to improve as a disciple of Christ.”
Can you see a completely different center of attention in those? In fact, if the second list can be said to center on the object of our worship, what does that say about the object of worship in the first list?
I hear items from the first list often, but from the second seldom, if ever. So here is my question: If a person cannot find any items from the first list in a church, does that excuse him from the assembled worship in his area? Of course not.
So why do we act like we are sacrificing something if the only place available has a preacher with poor speaking ability, no one who can carry a tune, and isn’t particularly outgoing? If that is my idea of sacrificing for my Lord, I’d better hope our country never builds a modern Coliseum.
Sometimes serving God is not a lot of fun. Sometimes it isn’t very exciting. Sometimes it is a lot of work with little appreciation. Sometimes we will be ignored. Sometimes we will be criticized. Sometimes we will be the object of scorn and sometimes these things will come at the hands of our own brethren. If I can’t take a boring sermon and off-key singing, what makes me think I can handle real persecution?
If I would be ashamed for my first century martyred brethren to hear my griping about the church, why do I think it is acceptable for anyone to hear it? Does it glorify God? Does it magnify His church and His people? No, I imagine it sends everyone else running from instead of running to “the pillar and ground of the truth,” the church for which “he gave himself up,” the manifestation of His “manifold wisdom” (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 5:25; 3:10).
And if somehow we could call it some sort of trial or persecution to worship with a group that is not exactly the ideal, what would the proper attitude be? Certainly not griping about it, but rather “rejoicing that we are counted worthy to suffer,” (Acts 5:41). Why, maybe we should actually go out and look for those places to worship!
And if I did choose one of those places to hang my hat, would it really become any better with someone like me in it? Make no mistake. It isn’t about whether the kingdom of God, specifically the one I attend, is worthy of me and my commendation, it’s about whether I can ever be worthy of it.
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory, 1Thess 2:11-12.