Going to church has always been a part of my life. Growing up, we attended church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and then again on Wednesday night. It was just a part of life, and something that I loved. I suppose in my teen years, a large part of being at church was getting to see my friends. Youth group was fun and we learned about God’s Word, but it was also an opportunity to build friendships, see the cute boys (let’s be honest), and have a good time.
There have been times in my life when I thought that attending church was a sign of spiritual maturity, a mark of a committed follower of Christ, I suppose. And, while I do believe Scripture teaches about the importance of gathering with fellow believers, I am learning more and more that my presence in church is not necessarily a sign of my holiness.
A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready for church, I started growing frustrated with everyone in the house. Those of you with young children know how challenging it can be to get your family ready for church. This particular day was incredibly difficult. By the time we got into the car, I was not just fed up, I was angry. And, everyone knew it.
For some reason, I still felt the need to say to Bradley, “I am so very angry this morning.”
“Yeah, I can tell. Why are we going to church, then? You being angry isn’t going to help anyone,” was his response.
Probably not, but in the deepest part of my heart I knew that being in church was the right thing to do. “Let’s do it for the kids” was a large part of my conclusion to keep going.
I was able to put on a happy face, even though my spirit was still reliving all of the things that had exasperated me that morning. I don’t remember if I prayed to have a change of heart, but throughout Sunday school, my spirit began to soften.
We came to the time for the service, and by that point I had calmed down enough that I couldn’t even remember what had made me so angry.
The order of service is generally the same each week: Call to Worship, Songs of Praise, Confession, Sermon, Lord’s Supper, etc. This is intentional, of course, to prepare our hearts as we come to gather as the body of Christ and listen to the teaching of God’s Word.
That morning near the beginning of the service, we sang these words:
Come ye, sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity joined with power.
He is able. He is able. He is able, doubt no more.
I had heard this song before, but the invitation that it offers was fresh that day. It’s for sinners. Yes, the vile kind that maybe comes to mind when we hear the term ‘sinner’. But according to Scripture, I am just as wretched (Romans 3:23). Yes, I am saved. I believe in the gospel and its power to change me. However, salvation doesn’t eliminate my struggle with sin. That day, my soul was particularly weak and I was allowing the frustrations of life to negatively dictate my actions.
The third verse spoke specifically to the conversation Bradley and I had in the car:
Come ye weary heavy laden, Bruised and broken by the fall
If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners Jesus came to call.
Waiting to come to Jesus until I feel fixed, whole, complete or when I just feel better will result in never coming. Why? Because there is nothing I can do on my own to fix the brokenness in my heart. If I somehow think I’m righteous on my own, then I don’t recognize who I am and who God is.
Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream
All the fitness He requires, is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you, Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
I don’t come to Jesus because I’m all put together. I come to Jesus because I desperately need Him to fix me.
Angry, confused, bitter, anxious, sorrowful, whatever negative emotion I may be experiencing is an opportunity to come to Jesus and be made whole. It’s an opportunity to experience the loving arms of a Heavenly Father who knows me, takes great delight in me, and has the power to restore me again.
In the same way, I don’t go to church because I’m holy. I go to church because I’m needy.
I need the words of Truth that are sprinkled throughout our songs, corporate confession, the reading of Scripture and the teaching of God’s Word.
I need the reminder of the cross. As I come to the Communion Table and drink from the Cup and eat of the Bread, I’m reminding myself once again that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has paid the penalty for my sins. It is through His death and resurrection that I am offered forgiveness, a restored relationship with God, and the promise of new life. He has renewed my spirit and provided a way for me to be healed. Partaking of this meal refreshes my soul and renews my belief in Him.
All is by Him. There is nothing I can say or do to convince God to save me, to earn His favor, or to buy my reconciliation to Him. He offers salvation as a free gift. He offers Himself as the Perfecter of my faith.
So, today, and everyday, no matter what I might be feeling, I need to come to Jesus. The only thing I have to bring is my brokenness. He takes care of the rest.
For further encouragement, click here to listen to the song mentioned above.