“And you say, `What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 1:13
The good news is ~ the Israelites had not yet abandoned their form of worship. The bad news is ~ they were doing it purely for the sake of ritual. They were bored. God accused them of sniffing contemptuously at what was sacred.
Many arise on a Sunday morning and think of church with a sigh. It is disruptive to what could be a free day. If you watch the Food Network, there are many programs that suggest how to put together an elaborate brunch menu, which according to the chefs, characterize their own Sunday mornings at home. It’s a time to sleep in, lounge, indulge, and even invite some friends over.
If many believers were honest with themselves and dared to examine their hearts, they would admit that a free Sunday of this variety is very appealing. The routines of their faith have lost their excitement and boredom plagues their spirit. I know. I spent many early years feeling as though Sundays were just plain monotonous. God’s Spirit seemed dormant. I honored traditions strictly for the sake of tradition. I was guilty of ‘sniffing contemptuously.’
I have spent 42 years in ministry. Much of that time has involved visiting one churches. I have felt the spiritual temperatures of congregations. Boredom has often been the prevalent disease of the people. To feel the electricity of the Spirit moving with the teaching of the Word was more the exception than the rule. Oh, but when the supernatural happened, it was unforgettable. I can recall those places even today even though in some cases, it’s years later.
As a visiting artist, I’ve been asked ~ “How do you think we could get more people to come to our church? Maybe we need to change the worship. Do you think we need to update our media? What did you think of our worship team? Should we get rid of hymnals and pews?” These kinds of questions ignored the real issue and were bandaids for those who were spiritually asleep. It’s easy for any of us to love the trappings more than we love to worship God with body, soul, and spirit. Church becomes an institution of religious customs where rituals abound.
A shake-up is needed and it begins with me. I start by asking the question, “How in the world could anyone be bored with God?! Why am I?” The many answers to these questions point to a spiritual malaise that can only be cured by uttering the most important words I would ever whisper in prayer. “Come Holy Spirit.”