Friday, November 27, 2015

"Leave Different than You Came"

Ezekiel 46.9 NKJV

“But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate.

He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.

This verse speaks to me about the impact of worship. No one leaves true worship the way they entered. If you enter from the north, you leave to the south. If you come in “by way of the south gate [you] shall go out by way of the north gate”. No exceptions. A true worshipper…

“…shall not return by way of the gate through which he
came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.”

Be wary of those who claim they worship continually. No one does that. While it is theoretically possible, human beings, even mature believers, are not perfected in their practice of the presence of Christ. Our day of perfection will come. Jesus promised, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5.48). “Perfect” is something for which we strive by the grace of God. But the state of perfection is a future hope, not a present reality. In heaven we may live each eternal moment in the glorious bliss of ecstatic worship. Until then, moments of true connection with God through the practice of Biblical worship comes in spurts. 

Like a drowning man gasping for air, we surface occasionally for enough life-giving breath of worship to sustain us until we reach heaven’s shore.

Ezekiel’s Jews were reminded of the value of worship “when the people of the land [came] before the Lord on the appointed feast days”. Christians historically celebrate their “appointed feast days” each Sunday morning at their local church.[1] Prepare to leave your house of worship different than the way you arrived. If you are determined to remain unchanged by the worship event, Jesus will regretfully grant your wish. Stubborn pew-warmers leave church the same way they came. 

Let the Divine-human encounter affect you. Be a true worshiper who…

“…shall not return by way of the gate through which he came,
but shall go out through the opposite gate.”

_______________

[1] Seventh Day Adventists worship on Saturday to “honor the Sabbath” according to the Hebrew tradition. They claim that since God “rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2.2), we should too. There is, however, ample Biblical evidence for the practice of honoring the Christian Sabbath on Sunday. On “the first day of the week” (Sunday) Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary and His disciples (Mark 16.9; John 20.19). On the first day of the week Paul “gathered together to break bread” with the followers of Christ in Troas (Acts 20.7). Paul also instructed the Corinthian believers to take “a collection for the saints” on “the first day of every week” (1st Corinthians 16.1-2). As a former Presbyterian pastor, I can assure you that most clergy “work hard at preaching and teaching” (1st Timothy 5.17) on whatever day they worship. I normally took Mondays off to rest after my most challenging work day of the week. It's not easy leading worship or delivering effective sermons. I presume most Seventh Day Adventist preachers actually rest on Sundays! Paul wrote to the Roman church, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike” (Romans 14.5) implying that, while special days of worship are important, precisely which days those are matter not.

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