A Sinner Walks into a Church

I love God’s rhythms. Maybe seasonal rhythms, cow, or sparrow rhythms I notice around the Barnyard of Heaven. Or, especially, rhythms I participate in with others at a church service. The rhythms we take part in which shape our loves.

No need to tell me what you really love? Just show me your rhythms.

I can’t pinpoint when I fell in love with the ancient rhythms of a church service beautifully orchestrated by my pastors. It simply grew with repetition. Maybe it was the crescendo I felt moving me in a Gospel reenactment toward the climax – a meal with God.

Maybe it was the discovery that God was working inside the rhythms, top-down, to transform my heart. A worship service wasn’t a place for me to explore creative new ways to express myself to God, though I did. It was more like a dance between lovers where neither partner feels compelled to impress each other. But oh, the intimacy flowing between us!

After hundreds of repetitions, I’m still stunned by the order of the first two elements of the ancient rhythms passed down by our spiritual fathers. First element: God Calls Us. Second element: God Cleanses Us.

What?!

Shouldn’t these elements be reversed? God knows, and I know, that I’m dragging myself into church a sinner, poor and wretched, weak and weary, sick and sore. But that’s okay. I join my fellow worshippers with a greeting of peace, recite together a Psalm, pray, sing a song and hymn of praise.

Then, God cleanses us as we confess our sins corporately and individually, punctuated by a scriptural reminder of God’s promise of forgiveness.

Gone are the days of trying to perform, behave ourselves, or pretend we’re not filthy. He wants us. He wants to hear our praise. But leave the cleansing ‘til later. He’ll get to it. He’ll be the one to do it. He’ll take a basin and towel and wash our dirty hearts. Whoa!

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mark 2:17, KJV)

Prayer: My beautiful, dynamic, loving, Triune God. I hear Your call to worship. Your acceptance of me is astounding. You call be by name. I respond to that call with praise. Thank you for cleansing and healing my body and soul. Amen.

Photo Credit: Pharisee and publican

3 thoughts on “A Sinner Walks into a Church

  1. Thanks for this reminder, Ron, of what makes the Father’s salvation for us by the blood of Jesus so glorious and amazing – God’s order of “coming” and “cleansing”.

    Man’s order in religion is first cleanse yourself (or some other requirement for self-righteousness) and then you MIGHT be permitted to come before their god. In contrast, the Father says, “Come!… The blood has been shed. Come!… The price of your redemption has been paid. Come!… The way into My presence is free and open to all. Come!!!

    One of my favorite worship songs is “In The Presence” (https://youtu.be/J7RCPKfo1Lg)

    VERSE 1
    In the presence of Your infinite might
    I’m so small and frail and weak
    When I see Your power and wisdom, Lord
    I have no words left to speak

    VERSE 2
    In the presence of a holy God
    There’s new meaning now to grace
    You took all my sins upon Yourself
    I can only stand amazed

    CHORUS
    And I cry holy, holy, holy God
    How awesome is Your name
    Holy, holy, holy God
    How majestic is Your reign
    And I am changed in the presence of a holy God

    VERSE 2
    In the power of Your glory
    All my crowns lie in the dust
    You are righteous in Your judgments, Lord
    You are faithful true and just

    Credits:
    Words and music by Mark Altrogge

    “In the presence of a holy God – There’s new meaning now to grace” The Publican understood this… the impossible gulf between us and God because of our sin, and yet the Father says, “In My grace, I will accept the blood of My Son for your sins and give you the free gift of The Righteousness of God so you can be in My presence. Come!

    “Come… I call you by name. Come into My presence and take off your shoes. I desire to be in contact with you and you NEED to be in contact with Me. Come!”

    “…And I am changed in the presence of a holy God”

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