Bible Bites

Bible Bites

Henry's Brother

Henry Ward Beecher, the famous pulpit orator, had to be absent one Sunday. His brother was invited to speak for him. The church was crowded, but when it became evident that the eloquent Henry Beecher was not going to appear, many started to leave. Beecher's brother was not disturbed. He stood up before the murmuring crowd, called for silence, and said, "All who came this morning to worship Henry W. Beecher may now leave. The rest will remain and worship God." No one left after that.

Why do people come to church? Ideally it is to worship God and be with His saints. But far too often we fall short of that ideal. What should be a joyful and meaningful event becomes a matter of rote, an occasion for criticism, or a source of disgust because things just don't suit us.

As with Beecher, some people base their attendance upon the preacher. If he doesn't meet their criteria, too bad. Many people don't like the preacher's style, or disagree with him on their pet subjects, or don't like his personality or popularity or manner of speech or whatever else. Then, when time comes for the preacher to present God's word, they cease to be interested in "worship." Paul called this carnality (1 Corinthians 3.1-5).

Some base their attendance upon their relationship to other Christians. If someone has offended them, they will reflect that in their worship. They will sit on the opposite side of the auditorium; they will avoid speaking to each other; they will skip Bible study; they will find some good reason for not coming; or maybe they'll just go to another church and "worship God" there. Jesus clearly condemned this as a false standard of righteousness (Matthew 5.23f).

Some base their attendance on their family ties. Where they go and when they go depend upon what their families have traditionally done. There is no genuine reverence; only rote tradition. There is no conviction; only ignorant vanity. Jesus condemned this a worship of tradition, rather than fear of God (Matthew 15.7ff).

Still others worship for many other reasons. Some for the song leader; some for the friendliness of the group; some for the purpose of validating their ticket to heaven again this week; some for their image.

"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4.23-24)