Most of us feel lost when we miss even a single Sunday Service. Is it due to a change in our routine or did we truly miss the word? Many people do not even know the very purpose for which they attend church. For some it is customary to go to church on Sundays. But if we want to know God’s desires, it is only possible through His word, the Bible. If the reason for attending the church is to receive the word, then what prevents us from listening to the word of God. How do we feel when someone does not listen to us when we speak? We feel so bad that we won’t continue talking. When we do not realize the importance of God’s word how could God continue talking. God Himself is explaining the attitude of His people through prophet Hosea.
“I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” Hosea 8:12
When the word became a strange thing for people it remained strange for them even when it became flesh.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11
People were unable to receive Him because of their preoccupied minds. A preoccupied mind cannot absorb the truth. It revolves around its own imagination and fantasies and conceives sin in men and women. Paul explained his inner trauma caused by the law and how it tried to lead him to death in the following verses.
“The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me”. Romans 7:10-11
Indeed, people are coming to Jesus in large numbers but are unable to receive Him. People are attending Sunday services, crusades, workshops yet they are strangers looking into the kingdom of God. People see miracles and transformation in other’s life but are unable to experience it. Before Jesus started his ministry, John the Baptist preached about Jesus and told the people the purpose for which Jesus was coming. Yet, people were unable to understand it. Jesus asks these people the reason for which they went to see John.
“As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” Matthew 11:7-9
What then did you go out to see in a crusade, The glamour of the stage? In a church, to witness a live performance? In a prayer meeting, to spend time with one’s friends and family? In a concert, to hear an entrancing music? As volunteers and users, to show and prove ourselves as righteous people? Or to connect with others through these common platforms? These are the motives that divert us from understanding His word.
Let us come out of our preoccupations. In the New Testament, We see the role of the upper room on two separate occasions. One upper room was where Jesus had his last supper with the disciples. And the second upper room where the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. What does it mean? It is a place far from our preoccupations. People with preoccupied things could not have stayed there. A disciple with greed for money could not stay at that upper room. Jesus said to this disciple to depart from the upper room to fulfil his preoccupied purpose. Jesus is our gentle savior. He will not threaten or force or lure us to be at His side. It is totally our choice to be with Him. The first upper room is to prepare the hearts and minds to understand the path that leads to redemption and the second upper room is to receive that redemption through faith. Have we ever been in these upper rooms?
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
If we leave aside our earthly desires and have a desire to seek the Godly things, then we will be able to understand the purpose of coming together to hear the word. Then, we will be able to guard our steps. Bible says listening is better than a sacrifice. We seldom listen to what God wants to tell us. Sometime we do not even allow Him to speak.
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil”. Ecclésiastes 5:1
Churches encourage fellowship among their members. As long as the members do not have commonality in them, they can only establish friendship according to their tastes of life and may fail to establish fellowship. We need a common goal to achieve fellowship and that goal is Jesus Christ. Friendship is developed among groups depending on their tastes. Fellowship is developed only if we understand the taste of Jesus Christ. Let us guard our steps when we go to the house of God.
Lord help us avoid unwanted things that are hindering us from listening to your word.