Summary: This sermon explores a commitment to faithful worship attendance and why we should do that.
In 1725 a young man named John reached a turning point in his career. Recently graduated from college, John was entering the ministry as a preacher in the Church of England, but John was ironically at one of the low points in his life.
He has participated in the fun-loving college life as a student and so it was he found himself at one such gathering one evening. That fateful night, John struck up a conversation with the doorman. It was cold that night and the doorman wasn’t dressed for the weather. He was urged to go home and get his coat, which the doorman proceeded to do. His coat wasn’t much of a coat - the doorman was poor, but he thanked God for the one poor coat he had, such as it was, and while he was at it, he thanked God that he had good, clear, water to drink that day. Apparently, daily clean water to drink was a luxury for this man.
John wanted to know what else he thanked God for.
“I thank Him that I have the dry stones to lie upon,” he said.
Yes, yes, and what else, John wanted to know. John wanted to know what other basic necessities of life this poor, poor fellow was so thankful for and how there could be such depth to his relationship with God, given his condition.
“I thank Him that He has given me my life and being,” the doorman continued, “I thank him for a heart to love Him, and desire to serve Him.”
John went home that evening sure of what he suspected. There was something missing from his faith. He didn’t possess what the doorman had and he desperately wanted it.
John’s life began to change. In many ways, John began to cultivate in his life the holy habits we have been exploring here at Grace church.
As John continued his search, this is what he found:
“I began to see that true religion was seated in the heart, and that God’s law extended to all our thoughts as well as words and actions...I set apart two hours a day for Bible study. I prayed. I watched against all sin, whether in word or deed. I began to aim at pray for inward holiness...”
John began attending worship weekly - something he hadn’t done in college - and began to ask his friends to join him, to cultivate holy habits in their lives, as well. And so it was the group came together with a regimen of weekly Bible study, prayer, service and worship attendance came to be known as the Holy Club. Later, this group, on their way to church, would earn the nickname Methodists.
So methodical were they in their habits, so devoted to cultivating holy lives, they earned the name Methodists. It wasn’t meant to be a compliment. Most people John associated with were not “religious” people.
John began living a very different life than most of those in his community.
His devotion and constant search for what was missing in his relationship with God showed in the great man he became, though I dare say he would never consider himself great. Great people often don’t. John became the leader of this group and later, John Wesley would become the founder of the Methodist Church in the new United States of America.
In our Bible lesson, we have before us a sermon written and shared with Hebrew Christians to encourage them. The Hebrew Christians were people in a crisis. Much like John Wesley, much like ourselves, they needed holy habits cultivated in their own lives.
Because of the work and life of Jesus Christ, those early Christians are encouraged to embrace a life of faith - to accept Christ and their Savior, to believe it with all of their heart.
They are encouraged to hold fast to the hope of our promise in Christ for our salvation, and to do so by encouraging one another in ministry to one another and to the world by continuing to gather together.
Don’t we need to hear that too? Don’t we need to be encouraged to believe in Christ, to hang on to hope when difficult days come, and to remember to gather together to encourage one another?
These Hebrew Christians were becoming discouraged and complacent.
Some of them who had been faithful in their attendance at first had stopped gathering together. Why did they do that?
Well, some were fearful of being persecuted for their faith. We don’t really face that today in our country. The closest we come is that its not cool to take our faith too seriously. I actually heard someone refer to himself as a Jesus Freak the other day with a smile on his face.