Take me to church
Have you ever watched a film you’ve seen multiple times and find yourself hoping it turns out differently? Like maybe Uncle Billy will remember that he put the $8,000 into the newspaper when he handed it to Potter, and George Bailey won’t find himself in a heap of trouble this time. Or the Jets and the Sharks will have their little rumble but no one will get killed and Tony and Maria will marry and live happily ever after. Or Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter won’t fall off the horse, Melanie won’t die, and Tara won’t be burned ‘cause the South gave up their quest for independence and there was no Civil War.
Conversely, in a particularly tense or disturbing moment in a familiar film do you find yourself fearing it will turn out differently…the hero, the good guy, the cause for right will be defeated this time?
Living as a Christian in a world seemingly hell-bent on being hell-bound is kind of like that sometimes. Though we know how the “story” ends, as we’re in the conflict phase the persistent reminders that evil has won many battles and is confidently engaging in many more can leave our confidence a bit shaken. I know God is sovereign and truth and righteousness will ultimately be victorious, but, man…sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Sometimes it feels like Satan is laughing at us as he gobbles up more and more territory and our destiny as conquerors with Christ is a tenuous probability at best.
until I went into the sanctuary of God – Psalm 73:17
And then I go to church. This surely is one of the primary reasons God calls us to regularly gather together as a body. It is especially when we are worshiping him corporately, expressing the truth of his supreme greatness and power in song, that we regain our confidence in his, and our, ultimate victory. It is when we glorify God that we are encouraged. The atheist who derides the God he doesn’t believe in as narcissistic for glorifying himself just doesn’t get it. When God is glorified we are the ones who benefit. It is as we are reminded of who he is, what he has done, and what he has promised he will do, that we are inspired to stay in the battle while he brings about his sure plan.
So the devil has gotten a foothold in the halls of government and academia?
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM!
Secularists, skeptics, and scientists promote the gods of naturalism and humanism?
You have no rival, you have no equal
Now and forever, God you reign!
Truth is denied, sin is celebrated, basic human rights are trampled on?
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Psalm 73, which I quoted above, is a lament about the prosperity and pride of the wicked who “scoff and speak with malice…threaten oppression…[and] set their mouths against the heavens.” The psalmist is so grieved and discouraged by this state of affairs he feels like giving up and giving in. And then he enters the sanctuary of God, and enveloped in reminders of God’s justice, holiness, and power he discerns the destiny of the wicked. He knows that unless they repent their end is sure, and it is destruction.
He is also reminded of his own end, and it is life with God…now and forever.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. – Psalm 73:23-24
Fellow Christian soldier…if you are discouraged by sin, evil, and suffering in the world and beginning to doubt how the story will end, take yourself to church! Join with the army of God in praising him who “laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” and know that nothing and no one is greater than our Commander-in-Chief and our victory is assured. When your “soul [is] embittered” because of the advance of wickedness in the world, heed the psalmist’s call to confidence in the indomitable righteousness of God.
And “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,” make a habit instead of getting yourself to church regularly where our God and King is lifted up, which lifts us up as well, “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”