Summary: People come to church for all kinds of reasons, but the only "good" reason to be in church is to "see Jesus." Hebrews 10 tells us how we can make sure we have the right attitude in worship.
It was Palm Sunday and, because of strep throat, the family’s 5-year-old son had to stay home from church with a baby-sitter. When the family returned home carrying palm branches, he asked what they were for.
His mother gently explained. "Well honey, people held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,"
They boy suddenly got upset, folded his arms and sat down in kitchen chair, "Wouldn’t you know it," he said, "the one Sunday I don’t go, He showed up!"
APPLY: What was that boy saying? He was saying that he was used to going to church. He loved going to church.
But when he went to church, he went expecting see Jesus.
There are a lot of people today who go to church, without expecting to see Jesus. They go to see their friends. They go because they like the good moral atmosphere it can give their family. They go to fulfill an obligation or out of habit. BUT there are many who don’t go to see Jesus. And that can be a problem.
There’s a clever country song out by Brad Paisley that goes this way:
They’ve read the scripture, they’ve passed the plate
And we’re both praying he don’t preach late
But he’s getting "amens," and that’s just our luck
Yeah it’s 86 degrees outside and he’s just getting warmed up
Oh, you and me, we could be soakin’ up that sun
Finding out just how fast your brother’s boat’ll run
I tell you that there ain’t nothing that’ll test your faith
Like a long sermon on a pretty Sunday.
Now, that’s a catchy song and it has clever lyrics. I’ve even caught myself singing a little of it now & then (pause…) but I hate that song. What I hear this singer saying is that he has to be in church - but he doesn’t really want to be there.
Why doesn’t he want to be there? There’s something else he’d rather be doing. He isn’t in church to see Jesus. He’s there to fulfill a moral obligation.
When people get that kind of an attitude in their hearts, (that they have to go - it’s a moral obligation), sooner or later its going to show up in their actions. They’re not gonna want to be going to church every Sunday. Maybe every other Sunday, or once a month, but they won’t want to take this thing too seriously. Because, frankly, it’s something they "have" to do, not something they "want" to do.
Now, this is not a new problem. This attitude has dogged church since the beginning. Hebrews 10:25 tells us "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…" There were people, even then, who didn’t really want to go to church. But, why would people get in the habit of not meeting together for worship? Well, because, when they did show up - it wasn’t to see Jesus. And that’s sad, because Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 "…where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
That’s the best & really the only reason we should come to church - to see Jesus. Anything else really isn’t worship. And this is the kind of attitude (coming to see Jesus) that we all need. It an attitude that we want to place in the hearts of every new Christian when they arise from the baptismal tank. But, how can we do that? How can we create within people’s hearts the desire to want to go to church with an expectation of seeing Jesus?
I. We can start by appreciating what Jesus has done for us. If we don’t appreciate what Jesus has done for you and me, church will always be a "have to," not a "want to."
So, what did Jesus do? What was it that He did that was so all fired important that I should WANT to come to church?
The writer of Hebrews tells us that what Jesus did was to change our entire relationship with God. AND to help us visualize what this meant, the writer goes back into the Old Testament and draws us a picture.
Back in the Old Testament, before Jesus died on cross, God was basically unapproachable. (At this point I showed an overhead of the tabernacle so the audience could visualize what was being said).
This is a picture of the tabernacle which was at the center of Israel’s encampment in the desert. This tabernacle was the place where God’s people worshipped. If you were of the tribe of Judah, or Benjamin, or Manasseh (or any other of the tribes), your worship of God involved offering an animal sacrifice. And you brought that sacrifice to the gate on the East side of the tabernacle courtyard. There a priest came out from the gate and slit the throat of your offering and carried it back inside with him. BUT you weren’t allowed inside the that gate, because if you passed inside the courtyard area, you were killed. They stoned you to death. YOU COULD NOT APPROACH GOD BEYOND THAT GATE.