Summary: People go to church for many different reasons. Why do you?
Who Comes to Church
October 14, 2001
People go to church for many different reasons. in Jesus’ day, the case was no different.
There were three types of people present that day:
I. Those who came to Encounter God.
The man with the withered hand.
Here is a man with a hand that is useless. We don’t know much about this man. It is believed that at one time he was a brick layer. Brick layers used their hands. It was not something that could be done one-handed. Perhaps through an accident, or just years of faithful service, this man’s hand was no longer useful. In those days if you had a deficiency, you were useless to society. He couldn’t work. He could do nothing. Where do you expect to see a guy like this? You would expect to see him begging in the streets. Where was he? In the synagogue.
He came seeking God. He came that day to encounter God. He had no idea what was going to happen when he went into the synagogue, but when he came out he was a renewed. He knew that he had a need, and the only one that could fix it was God. He didn’t know how God was going to do it. He just knew that he needed a miracle, and God was the one to do it.
This guy came to meet God. He came to worship, and seek Him. He was expectant, positive and ready to give. He wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t expect and know God was going to do something. He would have been on the streets. He was ready to give God whatever it was that he was told to give. He was ready when Jesus told him to do something. He did it. He was willing and ready to give whatever God wanted.
When we go to church, there are people who are there to encounter God. They come to see Him. They come because there is something in their life that was at one time whole, and it needs to be restored. They come expectantly, positively and ready to give. They come knowing God can do something to change their life. They come willing to do whatever He tells them to do.
There are some of us here today that need to encounter God the way this man did. We need God to restore something in our lives. For some, it is a relationship with Him. For others, it is relationships with our families. For still others it is something else. All of us have something in our lives that we have let wither away due to work, sin, or non-use. God will meet that need. He will restore your withered hand if you will just come and encounter Him. He will restore whatever it is that needs to be whole.
II. Those who came to Counter God.
This is the religious leaders. The Pharisees were there for no other reason than to make sure no one did anything wrong. They were not there to worship. They certainly weren’t there to encounter God. They were there to make sure that their traditions were upheld.
They didn’t care that God Himself entered their church. When He did they watched Him to make sure he wasn’t going to break any of their laws or traditions. They could care less about God. Their traditions and rules got in the way of their worship.
May God have mercy upon us all if we ever come to the point that our laws and traditions are more important than the presence of God. The only tradition that is wrong is tradition that stops you from worshipping.
The sad part is that this is still true to some extent today. There are people who come to church to see how much damage they can do to the Kingdom of God, rather than how much good they can do for it. They are the ones that come and sit there and watch to make sure that everyone walks the line. To make sure that everything is done, “the way we have always done it.” They are the ones that could care less if God Himself showed up. They would only say or do something if their tradition was messed up.
A lady at a church where I was Youth Minister at is the prime example of this. She had worked with the youth some. She was a fun person to be around. It was time for a change. I knew it, the kids knew it, the pastor knew it, everyone knew it. Over a period of time, we began to slowly make changes in the way things were done. Kids started getting saved, God was doing great things in the church, the youth group was growing, things were happening. She was mad because things were different than they always had been. She had the opportunity to take part in what was going on, but she chose not to. She was worried about things being different. She was trying to make sure things went according to how she thought they ought to. She was more worried about tradition than about worship, and doing things for God. She was looking for problems rather than seeking the kingdom.