"For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law - justice, mercy, and faith.....You strain your water so that you won't accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel." Matthew 23:23-24...."Do you ever go through the rituals of a worship service without an attitude of worship?...Do you consume the wafers and the wine without consuming the Spirit behind them?....Do you miss the heart of God?" Chris Tiegreen
It's so easy to recognize the hypocrisy of others yet remain so blind to our own. We can point out all the areas where another is not living up to the light they have, but be oblivious to all the places where we aren't either. There may not be any more noticeable area for this than in how we approach not just corporate worship, but all worship of the One we say we love.
We don't walk by feelings, but we should be walking with focus. There will always be days and times when we don't "feel" or sense His Presence. Yet our focus is not to be upon what we're feeling or sensing, but upon the One who says He is always there, always present, and that this is so no matter what we feel. We press on, we press into Him. Because we know that this is so. We walk by faith, and not by sight....or feeling. We are focused on Him regardless of what our emotions might presently be "saying." And the beauty of this is that when we do, most often, the feeling and sense of His Presence will come upon us. This is what it is to worship Him. We've fixed our eyes, and our hearts upon Him. We follow hard after Him whether or not we're experiencing the kind of natural or even supernatural senses we desire. We know He's a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And it is here that our hypocrisy can so easily enter in. When those feelings are lacking, we can just slip into a "going through the motions" mode. Whether privately or corporately, we come into His Presence. We read the chapters, sing the songs, read the Scriptures, hear the sermon....and in all of it, never encounter Him. Never connect with His heart. We miss His heart. We miss Him. But we're mostly unaware of Who and what we're missing. We leave in the same state we came. We've sung, listened and prayed....but we have not worshiped at all. At all. And it happens frequently. We tell others and ourselves that we've worshiped Him, but we haven't. We did all the right outward things....just like the Pharisees Jesus spoke to. The very ones He called hypocrites. If He said such to them, what does He say to us?
What is the depth of our guilt in this....for pastor and people alike? We pastors lament our people coming to worship services distracted, with their hearts and minds elsewhere. Yet how often do we do the same? How often are we mentally counting the people?...Who's there, and more, who's not? How often, when the offering is taken, something that is meant to be very much a part of worship, are we wondering if a sufficient amount will come in that day? Because there are needs...and obligations. We can so easily get frustrated with the lack of focus in our people, and remain blind to the lack within ourselves. Isn't this hypocrisy? If we're missing the heart of the Father, how can we ever expect those we shepherd to connect with that heart?
We try so hard to amp up emotions, create atmosphere, and still we miss the heart of God. It's my deep prayer that the Father raise up, through both pastors and people, a generation after His heart. I want to be among them. Do you? A people who come together for the purpose of experiencing Him, and in the experience, undergoing ever deeper transformation. This is true worship. This lays hold of His heart as He lays hold of ours. He makes the atmosphere because He is the atmosphere. When this happens, you can't just go through the motions. You will either run into it, or run away from it.....Into it, or away from it. Into His heart or missing it. Which is more likely for you and me?