Summary: In worship God provides a way for us to deal with the lingering dirt in our lives, and offers us a vision of life’s beauty and possibility.
How many househusbands do we have here? Are there any househusbands? Not housewives … we don’t even say that word in these politically correct times! You know what I mean … how many of us men will admit that we get into the housework routine?
Come on, I know about some of you! You have a working wife, and at some point she said to you, "If I am going to work all day, I cannot also come home and cook and clean and do the laundry while you park in front of the TV set." Isn’t that right? You remember something like that?
Well, my brothers, I am with you. I too am a househusband. My Mondays are a whirlwind of raking the yard, washing the cars, dumping clothes into the washing machine, and racing the vacuum cleaner through the house. Get out of my way, it’s Monday, and here I come!
And every Monday my wife says the same thing. Every Monday she says, "You can’t possibly do the whole thing in one day. You cannot do everything and do a good job in one day."
Now, if you know me well, you know what that does to me. When anyone dares to suggest that I cannot do something, I don’t quit. I don’t slow down. I go into overdrive. I will, I absolutely will, get it done by nightfall, or die in the trying!
But there’s just one problem. My wife is right about something. She is right when she says that I will not do everything and at the same time do a good job. And she has proved her point. When I challenged her statement, she amply proved her point.
Picture a room in our house. I’ve dusted the furniture, I’ve vacuumed the carpet. It looks all right to me. But Margaret just walks in, swings the door closed, and points out what is behind the door. Behind the door, which I had not bothered to move ... behind the door, which in my haste I had not worked with ... behind the door, which, if the truth be known, I hadn’t counted on being discovered ... behind the door, dust bunnies. Behind the door, all over the woodwork, dust so thick you can hardly see the color of the wood. Behind the door, a spider web with eggs in it to breed more creepy-crawly things. Behind the door, so much dirt left from many frantic Mondays, that you could hardly even read the place where three months ago her finger had written, "Dust me"!
Behind the door the woodwork needs cleaning and polishing. When the door is open, the room may appear to be clean; but when the door is closed, you can see that something unpleasant is breeding there. When the door is open, the room may look presentable; but close the door, and behind closed doors, the harsh reality spoils the entire effect. Behind the door, the woodwork needs cleaning and polishing.
What an image for the meaning of Christian worship! Christian worship is polishing the woodwork of the church. Christian worship is going behind closed doors, where the living God can deal with two great issues:
First, the living God can deal with the dirt in our lives ... even though we are believers, there is dirt multiplying in us.
And second, when we worship, the living God can show us the beauty of holiness. He can show us what life might be like.
The Lord Jesus said, "Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret." Go shut the door; worship behind closed doors.
Let’s look at the whole passage together, in Matthew 6:5-15 -- "Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
The Father’s first reward for those who will go behind closed doors is to deal with the impurities of the heart. The Father’s first gift for those who will worship Him is to confront and heal the terrible vulnerability of the human heart.
The passage of Scripture I read a moment ago included, as you noticed, the Lord’s Prayer. But did you notice how much of the Lord’s Prayer is given to this issue? How much of the prayer focuses on the insidious breeding of sin within us? "Forgive us our trespasses ... lead us not into temptation ... [or the translation we read, ’Do not bring us to trial’, rescue us from the evil one."
All of that language is designed to say, "We have a problem." We have a problem and the name of that problem is sin. However middle-class and sophisticated we have become, however educated and worldly-wise we are, the one great fact about human nature, even among Christians, is that we sin. We sin. We do wrong things, we nourish wrong attitudes: we fail to do right things, we fail to change our ways. It is purely and simply, that thing called sin.