My son and I were hiking together on Saturday, and we began to talk about this burgeoning crisis. I was out of ideas and desperate. No one else was going to give them a ride, so they could either come early with us or just stay home.
Being a wise father, full of great ideas and advice, I suggested, hey, why not just come early and devote that time to prayer and meditation on God’s Word?
Well, I’m proud of my kids. They weathered the storm, avoided the temptation of skipping out, and came with us at the wee hour of 8:05 a.m. Then they went to Tim Horton’s while we set up for the service. Great problem solving wins the day.
But it all made me think – what do we do when there’s a cost involved in worshiping God?
The cynical part of me says, well, David, you’re the king and very rich, so did it really cost you anything? But the point is, he could have taken the gift, the easy way out and his right as king, but instead he understood that doing so would have been anything but worshipful.
Should worship cost us nothing? Somehow, we have gotten the idea in our collective church mind that worship needs to be convenient and easy. We bend over backwards to find times for services and programs that fit most people’s schedules. And if people are too busy or too lazy to get up for Sunday service (when the early church met in celebration of Christ’s resurrection), we’ll make sure there’s a Saturday evening service as well. It makes sense, and some people are required to work on Sunday.
Can’t live without coffee? No problem, we’ll provide it – and cup holders – in our comfy theatre seating. And since it’s unbearable to commit two or three hours on a Sunday morning, we’ll cancel the “Sunday school hour” and just make it part of the service. Sunday evening services? Not a chance. No one will come, so we’ll cancel those as well. Early morning prayer times? Not likely!
Or maybe, just maybe, we have it all wrong. My parents were far from perfect, but they weren’t legalists. They attended church services twice on Sundays, plus mid-week meetings, and they served regularly, meeting needs wherever they could. They also made the very unpopular decision that I couldn’t play league soccer on Sundays. It devastated me at the time, but now, as a parent, I understand the cost they bore in making that decision. They did whatever they could to both honour God and set a good example for my sister and me.
At the root of true worship is sacrifice, giving the best we have back to God. This includes our treasures and talents, yes, but also our time. If we want to be less busy and feel less busy, slowing down and making time for worship (and Sabbath) is perhaps the key. I think of those multitudes in other countries who must walk hours to attend a church service that lasts most of the day, or others who have to worship in hiding to avoid arrest. Hopefully they understand that their efforts to honour God in these ways are every bit as much “worship” – or more – than the songs they may sing when they finally get together.
If we only worship God when it’s convenient or enjoyable, we need to ask ourselves if we’re truly worshipping. As David implied, if it costs me nothing, it’s not worship. What is our worship today or this week? How am I seeking to honour the One who paid it all for me on the cross?
And maybe choosing to go to church an hour and a half early out of love for God – maybe that’s worship, too. I don’t know for sure, but I do think it’s time we get another car.