Summary: It is easy to be tired of church if church does not connect with integrity, compassion, or fundamental life change. But you will not grow weary if you will work for the good of all.
Several years ago I officiated at a wedding at National Cathedral. At the rehearsal an official of the Cathedral explained why the service would be held in just the Great Choir of the Cathedral, and not out on the main floor, and why we would have to be exactly on-time, no exceptions. He said that they had to fit in, very carefully, everything that happened at the Cathedral, because, by the time you add up daily services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, christenings, services by special groups, and all the rest, they averaged seven thousand services a year in that one building. Wow! Seven thousand services a year!
Just thinking about it made me feel tired. Just imagining the task of coordinating all of that praying and preaching and singing and shouting, that made me more than tired. It made me feel weary. What a lot of church!
And then I thought back to the day a few years ago when Margaret and I stood in Winchester Cathedral in England, and, looking around at all that magnificence, we heard the our guide say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the worship of God has been conducted in this building every day, without a single interruption, for one thousand years." Wow again. 365 days a year, a thousand years, that’s at least 365,000 worship services, and you know there were many days when more than one event was held. Wow for the third time! That’s a lot of church. You might even wonder if that’s somehow too much church. It makes me weary to the bone to think of having to plan, conduct, organize, or attend even a small fraction of that. Too much church.
Do you ever get tired of too much church? If you’ve found yourself coming over here night after night, two and three and four nights in one week, did you notice that you were getting tired of too much church? If, on rare occasions, now really, rare occasions, the service goes past that sacred hour of noon, did you feel you were about to get tired of too much church? (Or was it that you wanted to get to the cafeteria ahead of the Methodists?). I hear stories from people all the time about the churches they used to go to, when you wouldn’t finish until two or three o’clock in the afternoon, and then you were expected back for an evening service, not to mention Baptist Training Union, and you have told me, many of you, that in those days you certainly became tired of too much church.
In fact, one person told me this week that when she was growing up, she would wait and get to worship about 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, and that when her pastor asked her why she did that, she said it was because he didn’t get around to saying anything worth listening to until about that time! Wow! Too much church!
Now if you and I can get tired of too much church, have you ever thought about God also being tired? Has it ever occurred to you that the Lord in heaven, having had to listen to all this praying and preaching, singing and shouting, from thousands of churches for uncounted years, may also be tired of too much church? Well, the prophet Isaiah says that God is indeed weary about some of it:
Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them.
Both God and we are tired of too much church. Part of the spiritual weariness you and I feel has comes from this. Part of the emotional exhaustion that is going on for many of us comes from church wearying us instead of refreshing us. We need to look at the kinds of things that weary us and weary God where too much church is concerned. At least three items are lifted up by Isaiah.
First, we’ll become tired of too much church if church is not connected with integrity. We’ll become tired of too much church if everything is directed toward doing church and not toward making lives. God too is tired of that:
Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and calling of convocation-- I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
"I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity." God says that worship blended with wrongdoing won’t work. Church mingled with sin is not acceptable. Church that doesn’t make a difference in our lives isn’t any good. In fact, it will wear us out. It will weary us and exhaust us.
If church is not connected with personal integrity, it will drain us emotionally. It’ll be all smoke and no substance, all emotion and no energy. Have you found out that the most tiring thing in all the world is trying to hide your own failure? It will exhaust you if you try to cover over your flews. You tell a lie, and pretty soon you have to make up another one to cover getting caught, and pretty soon you have to do another one to cover your cover, and then you have to cover the covering of your cover, and so on, and so on. It’s exhausting to live without integrity. Going to church and pretending to be holy while there are unresolved conflicts in your life will make you weary. You will soon get tired of too much church, and so will God, if church is not connected with integrity, if church does not help you with your life.