Yesterday I talked about our relationship with the one we love, our spouse. I know that there are those of you who are not married at this time. You might think, that doesn't apply to me. I would beg to differ. That is what today is about.
If you love someone, you will want to spend time with him/her. The more you love him/her, the more you want to be around him/her, the more you want to feel close to him/her. We talked about that yesterday so I won't rehash it.
Let me ask you, who do you love? As I ask this question I want to move from the physical love to the spiritual love. I ask this question as I think about my relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. I love Him with all my heart and life. There is no one that I love more than Jesus, not my wife, not my children, nor is there anything I love more than Jesus, not my trains, not my books, not the Cubs, nothing. I love Jesus first and foremost in my life. (This follows the teaching of the 1st Commandment - You shall have no other gods.)
Having said that, let me make a disclaimer. I am not saying that I am perfect in my love for Jesus. There are times other things move into 1st place in my life. For that, I am sorry and confess my sin to God and receive that wonderful forgiveness. None of us can be perfect in following the 1st Commandment, in either the 1st use of the Law or the 3rd use of the Law. But that doesn't change the fact that Jesus is still the One that I love. I always return to Him. More than that, I give thanks that He loves me despite my sins, despite my adultery with other gods (not physical adultery but a spiritual adultery, much like the people of Israel through out the Old Testament). He loves first. My love for Him flows out of His love for me. His love is perfect, my love is imperfect. His love is continual, my love fluctuates. His love is complete, my love is incomplete. He loves me. He gave Himself for me. He overcame sin, death and the devil for me. I did none of those things for Him. He gives, I receive. He fills me with His love and it overflows from my heart, much like water poured into a glass will continue to overflow as I continue to pour water into it. He never stops loving me, I stop loving Him when something catches my fancy. Keep all that in mind in all that I write. There is only one perfect love, that is found in Jesus alone. My love is not perfect. I am not perfect. I am a forgiven believer.
Having said all that, I think you might agree with me in saying, "I love Jesus. He is my Lord and my Savior." There is a love affair taking place here - between Him and me (starting with Him, flowing from Him, nothing of mine is given to Him other than my will, my life, and my very being). As I want to be around the one that I love in this world, my wife, so I should want to be around the One that I love more than her, Jesus Christ. I want to be with Him. I want to hear from Him. I want to receive love from Him.
More than all that, I NEED to be around Jesus. I need His love in my life. I need His presence in my life. I need Him (He doesn't need me). And because of that love that He has for me and I have for Him, I do all I can to be with Him - in my daily life, in worship, in Bible study, at work, at home, where ever I find myself.
Here is a thought, if I love Jesus like this, why would I not attend worship? How can I say, I love you Jesus, and then not spend time where He has promised to meet me. How can I say to Him, I love you but I don't want to attend worship because I don't think I need it, want it, desire it, or whatever? So many Christians will say they love Jesus and then never go where He has promised to be with them. (Understand, I am not judging people. That is His job.) What would happen to my marriage if I said, "I love my wife with all my heart. She is my all in all." And then I never go home to her? What would happen to my marriage if in that very place she is at, I never go? I would not have a marriage long. My love for her will grow cold and die. My desire for her will become a thing of the past. I will be enamored with someone or something else.
So it is in my relationship with Jesus. If I avoid the place He promises to be, in His house of worship, what will happen to my love for Him? More than that, can anyone believe that I really love Him? Am I merely kidding myself and quelling my conscience? So many people avoid Jesus on a weekly basis. They say, "I love you Lord. I just don't need to be around you."
Now I know that you can come back to me and say, "Jesus is always in my life. I don't need to worship to be close to Jesus. I can be close to Him at home, at work, wherever I am." And that is true. I am not doubting that at all. I just seems crazy to me that a person can say, "I love you" and then avoid that which the Lover gives to him/her. I love you, but don't ask me to be around you. I love you but don't ask me to put myself out for you. I love you but I don't want what you offer me. That is exactly what is said when a person says, "I don't need to attend worship to be a Christian." It is saying, "I love You Jesus, but I don't want to be around You in this time when You promise me that You will be present in both Word and Sacrament." If I said to my wife, "I love you but I don't want to be around you," would you say that I love her? No. I am merely mouthing the words.
All right, so some will be offended by this. They will take exception to what I have written. They will profess love for Christ and still say that they can avoid Him. They will say I am judgmental. I might be accused of being unloving. I don't know what else might be said.
But I come back to the thought, if I love someone, I want to be around them. If I love Jesus, I want to be around Him. He invites me to come to Him. Why wouldn't I listen to His invitation? Why wouldn't I want to spend time with Him? Yes, I will continue to love Him at home. I will continue to be with Him in prayer and reading of His Word. I will continue to love Him at work. I know that He has promised to be with me wherever I am. Perhaps it is time for me to commit myself to be with Him where He is - in His house of worship.