Have you ever had to get a child ready for church service on Sunday morning who really did not want to go? If you’re honest, have you ever dreaded going as much as your child? Why do we feel like that?
Ok, so I know this is a loaded question, and there are a thousand ways we could dissect this, but I want to focus on one specific scenario.
Sometimes corporate worship can feel more like an obligation than a joyful act of worship. I believe one reason for this is, if we are honest with ourselves, we do not expect God to be there. Oh, we might say, “God is there, God is everywhere”. But we do not have an expectant anticipation that God will be among us when we come together to worship Him. We settle for greeting friends and neighbors, singing good music, and listening to God’s word being read and taught.
All of those are good things. Hearing God’s Word is more than a good thing, it is essential. But Matthew 18:20 tells us something special happens when God’s people come together, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”
Notice a few things about this statement. It is not limited to a certain place. It is not limited to a certain time. It is not limited to a certain format, or according to a particular plan. It simply tells that when we come together, God is among us.
Many times, I believe we have forgotten this. I know I do. I get lost in the repetition of life. I allow myself to slip from anticipating corporate worship on Sunday mornings to seeing it as another task or duty I must perform. May this not continue.
In Jeremiah 29, we find a message for the people of Israel who have been carried away into captivity in Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar (the same king Daniel served and who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace). Jeremiah encourages those who have been taken into captivity to build homes, pray for the welfare of their new city, raise their children, and settle in for a long while as it will be 70 years before anyone returns to Jerusalem. But God, through Jeremiah, also tells them He has plans for their welfare, not disaster.
And then Jeremiah makes this statement in verse 13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
In the context of this verse, this promise is specifically given to the Israelite captives in Babylon. But I believe there is a universal principle of God’s nature in this verse. In order to find Him, we must surrender ourselves to the search for Him. Keep in mind these words were written for people who already knew God.
I confess, I struggle with this. How do you seek God with all your heart? I believe the best place to start is to ask for God Himself to help with this. I need to ask Him to help me seek him. Faith is then trusting God is as good as His word. If I seek Him with all my heart, I will find Him.
Now, imagine what happens when a body of believers who are each seeking God with their whole heart come together for worship? I believe God’s presence may almost be palpable.
May we strive to seek Him fully, and come together expectantly.