Pulpit Reflections By Rev. Robert Grossmann For the past 300 years, going to church on Sunday has been a way of life in America. Long before the Declaration of Independence, people in the 13 colonies were busy building churches as soon as they arrived from Europe, and began worshipping God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible. Indeed, many of them were refugees from religious persecution in Europe. Our own denomination for example, the Reformed Church in the United States, was founded by such refugees in Pennsylvania in 1725, some 51 years before the first Independence Day.
To this day, church attendance is a regular thing for millions of Americans, and I believe that this is a wonderful thing. Nevertheless, there has been a subtle but profound change in WHY people to to church, that is not so wonderful. The founders of our nation and our Christian forebears went to church fundamentally for the purpose of thanking and praising the God who had created them, and Who had sacrificed His Son on the Cross to save them from their sins. For them, the important thing was that God would receive the praise and thanksgiving they owed Him and His children. The main thing was not so much what they would receive from worship, but that God would receive from their worship the honor due to Him.
Today, on the other hand, many people attend church services for what they can get out of them. The honor of God is not really a large priority in their lives, if they even think about it at all. As a result, both church attenders and churches have begun treating worship like a cafeteria or smorgasbord. If we receive what people want in church, then we will go. If not, we won't. Churches then also restructure their "worship" to give people what they want. They then find themselves in competition with a whole host of industries from entertainment to welfare, trying to fulfill the needs that people see themselves as having.
Well, the fact of the matter is that this man-centered approach to worship and the whole work of the Christian church is upside down and backwards. If God is really God, and He is, then He has made us, we have not made Him. Five minutes of intelligent thinking will tell us that mankind has received the world the way it is; we have no more made the world than the frogs have. We don't even know completely how our skin works, much less have we made one square inch of it.
So we really need to get off the dead horse of the importance of man, and use our intelligence the way our forebears did, to worship and serve the great and marvelous God who made us.
This, by the way, is one of the great lessons of the natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina that continue to say, "Mankind, you are not very big, its really about time to get humble before God." God will, in fact, kill every last one of us as a testimony of His judgement that the human race is made up of sinners. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Try to escape that one! NO, it's much better to accept "the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).
According to God � remember He's the one who made us � we are here to know and understand (in contrast to the plants and animals) who God is and to praise Him by our worship and work. Isaiah made it very clear in his inspired prophecy. "You are my witnesses," says the Lord," and beside me there is no Savior" (Isa. 43:10-11). As Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, and you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16).
In this view of the universe, our blessing and benefit is a byproduct of serving God, of making Him the center of our lives. As Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matt. 6:33). This is especially true of worship, where God is glorified when we praise and honor Him by listening obediently to the Master speaking to us in His word, in the reading and teaching of the Bible. Our benefit is the byproduct of such worship as God uses His word to build us up in our faith and lives as the servants of God.