It’s Sunday morning here in the USA. My alarm clock went off … snooze button. My love for God is in conflict with my desire for sleep. Alarm … snooze button. My love for God’s people is in conflict with my desire for sleep. Alarm … snooze button. My love of worship and what I do on Sunday morning is at war with my desire for sleep. Alarm … snooze button. Which will win?
I got up … I’m the preacher. It’s my job and sleep can wait so that the things of God can come first.
The Purpose Driven Life: Cultivating community takes frequency. You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time. …we are to develop the habit of meeting together. A habit is something you do with frequency, not occasionally. You have to spend time with people – a lot of time – to build relationships. This is why fellowship is so shallow in many churches; we don’t spend enough time together, and the time we do spend is usually listening to one person speak.
You have to show up. There is a famous Woody Allen joke: 80 percent of success is showing up. It’s true. In matters of the spirit, the percentage for success is closer to 100%, because the whole point of Christianity is that God showed up, in the presence of Jesus, and everything flows from that. Everything flows from God showing up so that we can have this relationship with God, and with each other.
You have to show up.
There’s a story of a man who lost all of his hearing – every bit. Never the less, he would attend church every Sunday, sit in his regular pew and be a part of everything that went on that morning. He could still speak, of course, although sometimes louder than he realized; his friends would communicate with him by writing notes. Eventually the day came when he got a note that said: “Why do you come to church when you are totally deaf? You can’t hear the singing, the choir, or the pastor’s sermon. There’s no benefit for you and it’s a waste of your time.” The deaf man’s answer was quite loud and fell into a lull so that everyone heard it: “It’s my neighbors. I want them to know whose side I’m on.”
Some of us do attend worship for our own benefit. But that’s not the only reason. You have to show up.
We all have struggles and problems with this life, and we pray to God for help. We look for the answers to our prayers. I would love to sleep in most mornings, but I’ve learned that I rarely find God’s answers to my prayers under my pillow. Typically God answers prayers in holy places, and people have been making pilgrimages to holy places throughout all of history. At the destination of the pilgrimage, we find God and gather with God’s people. And even more often, it seems to me, God answers prayers through other people whom God sends to me with the solution to my problem. You have to show up.
Literally: if I need a lawnmower, someone at church has one to lend. If I need a home repair, someone at church either knows how, has the tool to lend or knows someone I can call. Someone at church has that recipe I can’t find. Someone at church has that encouraging word that I need to carry on. Someone at church cares about me, and is God’s means for me to receive the love that I need right here, right now, with the challenges in my life. If you have lots of problems, perhaps your main problem is that you are not showing up for the answers. God provides … but it’s your job to show up.
You have to show up. The answer to your prayers is waiting, or perhaps you are the answer to someone else’s prayer. You have to show up.
Some quotes in italics are from Day 19 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002).
The photo is by Grace Kat aka g_kat26, courtesy of the Flickr Creative Commons License, and can be viewed at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/g_kat26/3706422335/