I came to know Christ in 1985, and for many years I attended a church faithfully. I went at least 3 times a week, participated fully in all activities,
had my ministries I devoted many hours to. But after my initial joy of learning who Christ really was to me, sometime in the first year of my Christian experience, I fell into a trap. For seven years, I was firmly bound into that trap, and did not get seven years worth of Christian growth and experience, it was more like having the same year of growth – seven times. I was caught up in the "church trap". I left that church (and all churches for several years) defeated and frustrated.
The church trap is that phenomenon where people get involved socially, physically, financially and psychologically in the business and process of "going to church". We do all the things, sing all the songs, pay our tithes, and make sure we are there to be seen, but just seem to become bound to the process – not the promise. The trap can easily cause us to go to church, and miss the purpose. Is church a social or spiritual place for you? The purpose of going to church is to worship. It is not about activity. You totally get the idea of it when you catch the true meaning of this verse:
Romans 12:1 (NIV):
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.
This is what you do when you go to church. This is what you do when you go to a small group. This is what you do when you serve on the host team or pray with someone. You enter into the "spiritual act of worship". You turn your heart to God and offer him your whole being to use as he can and will. If you do that, he will take the sacrifice you offer and do some incredible things. You will be a better host to visitors, a better prayer partner, a better singer, and a better listener, but in order to do that — you have to let go of YOU. Stop judging what God gave you in church this week, and start judging what you gave to HIM.
Once you discover how to sacrifice you will escape the trap, and easily recognize it when you are poised to fall back in. Want to know another secret? You can worship outside of church also! You can offer that sacrifice anywhere, anytime. Church then just becomes a place where you are – all the time. It’s a nice place to be, and it will never feel like a trap. Give it a try this week. Worship through sacrificing yourself, and you will experience a whole new church experience.
Enjoy your week, and enjoy your sacrifice!