By Pastor Tim Becker
Have you ever arrived at church on a Sunday morning with an attitude that stinks? I have. If this has happened to you, I’ll bet you too have experienced the negative pull it has on your worship time. Instead of coming with ears open to hearing from Jesus, you come with plugs in your ears. And then you leave the worship service pretty unengaged, unchanged, and maybe thinking how boring and irrelevant it was.
I remember once when our oldest 2 were young. I actually turned the car around and went back home. We were fighting on the ride to church and I just couldn’t bring myself to walk into the church building pretending that all was well. What did I learn from that awful experience? Over time I began to see that Renee and I needed to be aware of our conversation on a Sunday morning. We learned to take care of the topics we discuss. It’s not the time for me to complain one more time about the dishes (or whatever).
The younger Tim used to love his weekend nights. It was then that I could get lots of “me time”: reading, video games, recreational programming, thinking about early PC designs (early 1980’s), a late night date with my lovely wife. I would push back my Friday and Saturday night bedtime as late as I could.
Because we’ve always gone to church Sunday mornings, my “day of reckoning” for these late nights wasn’t Monday morning, but Sunday mornings. Can you guess how I felt about those Sunday worship services? The singing was great. The preaching? I was so bored that I had trouble staying awake. Sometimes I’m a slow learner, so it took a few years for me to realize that I wasn’t struggling to stay awake because the preaching was boring, but because I didn’t get enough sleep. It’s so obvious now, but I totally missed it then. Once I started getting enough sleep on Saturday night, the preacher suddenly started preaching sermons that were more interesting to me. Seriously, the problem was simple. I had trouble benefiting from the sermon because I stayed up too late on Saturday night.
I have long enjoyed learning new things. So guess how I evaluated the preaching? If the pastor told me something I never heard before, then the sermon was great. If not, then I wasn’t so excited. Worse, I would tune out until I heard something new. When the preacher would bring up sin and hell and Jesus on the cross and faith in Christ then I had this little switch for my brain and ears that I would flip off. I would immediately tell myself that this part of the sermon wasn’t for me, but was for someone else. I would stop listening until the sermon would get back to what I would think of as the “meat” and leave the lighter fare to the others who needed that. I hope you hear my arrogance. Bad. Sinful. I sure wasn’t following the apostle Paul who gloried in the gospel every time he wrote of it. Paul never appeared bored with the gospel message (sin, hell, cross, faith) and never even implied that it was beneath him. I’m now convinced that my spiritual growth was stunted because I wrongly thought of new-to-me truths as meat and gospel truths as lighter fare not worth my chewing and swallowing once again.
So brothers and sisters, I hope you will learn from my mistakes about how to come to church. First, strive to keep the peace on Sunday mornings with those you live with so that your emotions aren’t spoiled for worship. Second, get yourself to sleep at a good hour on Saturday night so that you won’t be too tired to follow the preaching of God’s word from your pastor. Third, evaluate your pastor’s sermons not by their novelty, but by their faithfulness to the Scriptures; especially prize the retelling of the gospel as the best meat for your soul.