Worship and the Long, Inward Look
When I celebrate the Lord’s table on the first Sunday of the month, it is something that excites me as I sense the Lord’s presence in a powerful way. It is also a time when I need to practice personal reflection and examination before I enter the church and the sanctuary. This examination must be done sincerely, not half-heartedly, if I am to receive the fullness of the Lord’s blessing.
Do we take seriously the command to examine ourselves? Are we truly broken over our sin? Is our confession merely a momentary thing, knowing full-well we’ll revisit what we’ve just confessed?
The Lord honors a true repentance with fully-restored fellowship. If we aren’t embracing the call to genuine self-examination, what is preventing us from doing so?
Do we allow our hearts to stray from an active awareness of a God who is so holy that He struck the man Uzzah dead for merely touching the very symbol of His Presence, the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:1-7)? Do we, New Testament believers, think God is somehow diminished in His holiness? What would our response be if God moved today against sin as He did in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira? It’s true that we’ve been given greater access to His throne than even John the Baptist. Yet John’s message of repentance is still relevant to us today. Through it, we can walk in a right relation to God the Father and fulfill His Kingdom building purposes until His return.
There is never a time when He applauds sin in the life of a believer. He loves us far too much to reward actions or thoughts that lure as away from His loving arms. Think of a loving parent’s admonition to wash hands before the dinner meal. The child cannot see the germs. The child can’t grasp the connection between invisible germs and life-threatening disease. But the loving parent sees the risk and admonishes the little one to obey from a place of trust.
Obviously, who could love us more than the One who died to save us?
Consider the elements of the Lord’s Table – the elements of which we partake in that celebration. In John 12:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Consider the loaf of bread: grains crushed, made into flour, baked; pieces torn from the loaf. Think of how they speak of Christ, torn as He was from fellowship with the Father so that fellowship might be available to us!
Consider too the fruit of the vine: crushed to remove its liquid. Isaiah reminds us that “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
O the challenge, and the beauty, of devoting ourselves to the breaking of bread!
To consider …
- Jesus’s words in John 12:24 speak of dying to one’s self and to the world as a crucial process for all who would go forth bearing fruit.
It’s similar to the vine principle in John 15: If the branches are severed from the vine, both the branches and its fruit wither and die. They are of no use except to be burned.
If we are not applying these principles and working them consistently into the fabric of our being, can or should we honestly claim to be His disciples?
- Thinking of how Jesus was crushed for our sin, are we willing to crush sin in us – even in its embryonic stage like the egg of a poisonous snake? Or do we coddle that dangerous egg until sin breaks out and strikes us?
- How seriously do you take your preparation for worship – cleansing your soul that you might serve God in purity?
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