I think we have it backwards. What is on display in public should first be done in private.
The highest attended church services of the year almost always fall on Christmas and Resurrection Sunday. Yet, I wonder how many of those who show up each holiday to publicly display their adoration have done the same—in private—prior. For the true believer, our corporate worship is largely dependent upon our personal worship.
From attendance to zeal, I would argue that true worship must begin on our knees in our closets meditating on the Reason for those seasons. Otherwise we are at risk of playing the part of the hypocrite, where we become more concerned with what others see and think than what God already knows. Like the lukewarm water of Laodicea (see Rev 3:15-17), we’ll have little—if any value for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
With that said, here are three simple steps to countering this quandary:
First, get motivated. An intimate change is needed. Yes, hit the reset button. Begin anew, again. If you are still reading this then you realize the necessity of a course correction. You have got to get yourself back on the right path—pursuing a closer relationship with “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:15-16).
Now is a terrific time for each of us to personally prepare our souls. To practice preaching the glorious gospel to ourselves. To ready and steady our own hearts to cry, “Up from the grave He arose!”
Second, make the time for it. Interrupt your regular consumption of media (broadcast, electronic, print, social, etc.) and begin the journey with a cross-centered book. Something that will both teach and thrill your core on the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord. Material meant to expand and enrich the Christian mind with divine wisdom.
John Piper writes in the introduction of his little book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die:
The most important question of the twenty-first century is: Why did Jesus Christ come and die? To see this importance we must look beyond human causes. The ultimate answer to the question, Who killed Jesus? is God. It is a staggering thought. Jesus was His Son! But the whole message of the Bible leads to this conclusion…
When all is said and done, the most crucial question is: Why? Why did Jesus come to die? Not why in the sense of cause, but why in the sense of purpose. What did Christ achieve by His death? Why did He have to suffer so much? What great thing was happening on Calvary for the world?
Third, meditate on the answers to these kinds of questions. I’m eager to use Piper’s book as my evening devotional between now and that special week of remembrance. If you would like to join me, do so by downloading a free copy (PDF) or purchase a paperback. (Perhaps you have another book in mind, that’s great, do share!)
My prayer for those who decide to dive in is that:
[T]he God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. (Eph 1:17-19)
What will you read?
1 Piper, John. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006). 11, 16-17.