Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Second Helpings? Hey, Why Not Thirds?

1 Pet 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Ps 19:10 More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Disclaimer: this post is not intended to encourage unhealthy eating, but to whet the appetite for the best food of all!
When I was a boy my two older brothers and I looked forward all week to Saturday. Before supper that day Mom would go to the grocery to get each of us our favorite “Coke” (which in those days could refer to any soft drink). In the evening Dad would cook hamburgers. And each of us boys could have three, yes, three! (These were not very large by today's standards.) The meat was perfectly seasoned, the buns were fresh, and we could load them up with all the fixings. Dad loved sweet pickles. Mom loved onions. I loved just about everything.
Mom would have a seemingly endless supply of potato chips for us. Sometimes we used trays and sat in the den in front of our one television, black and white of course, to eat. That way we could watch the fake fighting of Jackie Fargo and Tojo Yamamoto on “All-Star Wrestling.” We had arrived!
I rarely stopped at one burger, or even two. I almost always went for the max! Do you know why?
My parents pressured me. Not!
I was afraid that my brothers would get mine. Not!
I felt guilty after only one or two. Not!
I had no other choices. Not!
The fact is, I ate three burgers just because I wanted to! It was that simple. It was a matter of plain old appetite. Of course, before long it became a habit, a habit that I longed to “feed!”
It seems to me that worship assemblies and Bible classes are like that. For one who “hungers and thirsts for righteousness” (Matt 5:6), those gatherings are a feast! Nothing and no one will keep him or her from going back for seconds, and even thirds.
Sometimes people have spoken of attendance at church meetings as an obligation or duty. We read in Heb 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Some Christians have emphasized the importance of doing as the elders direct, and the elders exhort everyone to be present at each opportunity. We read in Heb 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
These concerns are valid, and there is certainly an “ought-to” when it comes to worship and Bible study. However, nothing takes the place of the “want-to.” You and I never need to be pushed when it comes to something we really want.
That’s why you never have to force sports fanatics to watch the game or the race. They will not settle for one event; they will return for seconds and thirds!
That’s why people will pay money to watch the latest movie. They will not just see the first film; they will go back for each sequel, often waiting in line as soon as it is released!
That’s why whole-hearted shoppers never have to be begged to go get the newest phone or the latest fashion. When they buy it, they are just doing what they are hungry to do.
So maybe the most productive question is not, “Why don’t you come back to worship on Sunday night, or come to Bible study on Wednesday night?” Maybe instead we should ask, “How is your spiritual appetite? What are you hungry for? How satisfied are you with your relationship with God, your knowledge of His Word, and your level of discipleship?”
Of course there would have been no burgers at all if my parents had not intentionally determined to feed my brothers and me. It was important to Dad and Mom that we had plenty. The same parents who fed me three burgers a week took me to three church services a week, as well as other church-sponsored youth activities, etc. We also prayed and talked about the Bible at home. They made it a priority to feed us spiritually. They loved the Lord and the church, and they instilled that love in my young heart.
So today I say with King David:
Ps 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
I’m going for the spiritual buffet! How about you? I’ll see you there!

1 comment:

Spencer Ross said...

I have been thinking about church attendance lately and how to encourage others to "want" to be with the saints. Your article makes another appealing reason to come back for seconds or thirds. Thanks for your thoughts.