Here’s a recent sermon by Piper on courage in and suffering for the gospel. I pray my young brothers in the faith take it to heart. Today is the day of fear and weakness. We need brave ministers of the gospel to preach true truth wholeheartedly.
I shudder to even ask. I fear the closest many church goers will come this Sunday to a word about the cross will be a crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper. No mention of the cross in the speech given from the stage. Not a whiff of the stink raised in God’s nostrils from our sin. No groping to describe the total darkness sin has left us in. No recognition of the havoc wreaked on every level of creation by sin. No biblical scalpel wielded by the pastor to remove the malignant, terminal tumor of sin entwined in our hearts and minds. And certainly no mention of the bloody and shameful death of the Messiah on the cruel cross at the hands of hate-filled sinners.
“What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?”
Everyone recognizes they aren’t happy, so we tell them that God will make them happy. Everyone recognizes there are tragedies in the world, so we tell them God never wanted the tragedies to happen. Everyone recognizes life isn’t fair, so we tell them God will bring blessings into their lives. Everyone worries, so we tell them that God is on their side.
Where is the cross? It’s not on display in many churches. It’s not mentioned in the “sermon” (which is actually more of an inspirational talk in many cases). But it’s exactly what Paul preached.
“What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?” Does the sin-bearing life and death of Christ deserve any reflection? Does the one answer to sin’s slaughter of mankind merit any consideration? Does the pinnacle of God’s message to man ascend before our notice?A reality check for modern man.
We need to talk. About the corporate worship of the church. Not just any church. Your church. What are your Sunday mornings like? Do you look forward to joining with the assembled saints and worshipping God?
Before you answer, I have an important announcement. I have decided to participate as a contestant in the 2012 London Olympics. I have selected the 10,000 meter long-distance race as the contest to enter. I have started resting up in preparation for the competition. According to the website for the olympics, I have around 1,400 days to rest up. That seems like an adequate time for an intense schedule of resting, laying around, napping, and otherwise saving my energy until the starter’s pistol fires. I didn’t feel that I had enough time to rest up for the Beijing games. I believe 1,400 days of rest will position me for a strong, gold-medal performance in London.
What? Why are you looking at me like that? You don’t think 1,400 days of rest will bring me to London totally prepared for victory? I need to train and run marathons to prepare for the Olympics? Hmmm… let me think about that. In the mean time…
Back to the question about corporate worship at your church. Are you exercising your soul in private worship of God regularly throughout the week? The psalmist wrote, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Private worship will prime your heart for the corporate services of your church. To apply the olympic illustration above, you need to train your heart and mind throughout the week if you are to engage in whole-souled worship with God’s assembled people. Busying yourself throughout the week with insta-urgent demands from sun up to sun down, never leaving time to cultivate your relationship with the Lord or worshipping will leave you feeling empty come Sunday morning. It’s hardly reasonable to expect that you can turn on your heart affections for a few minutes on Sunday morning and feel that you’ve worshipped the Father in spirit and in truth.
I’m left wondering if the wonders of modern life are not robbing what little piety we evangelicals have left. At the very least, the younger strata of the evangelical culture is heavily impacted by the hyperdrive lifestyle. The middle-agers and seniors among us have an opportunity to model a devotional lifestyle before these dear young people.
I know there are many who visit here who do practice private worship throughout the week. The comments section is open. Please share your practice and ideas for pursuing the Lord in private worship throughout the week. This is a means to spur your brothers and sisters on to greater works of love in service to the Lord.