SCRIPTURE: Psalm 84:10 (TM)
One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
Ken Pell shared the following in his sermon, RADICAL FAITH:
I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question"
Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago: A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.
I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks." The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained.
Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again… at least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.
What does it cost us to gather together in Jesus’ name? Nothing really, at least not here in America. For those who live in other parts of this world it could cost them dearly. Is this the new definition of cheap grace… a worship experience without cost?
The Psalmist speaks of the joy of being in God’s sanctuary. Everything pales next to that experience. Those in Dr. Platt’s book knew the cost of following Jesus, especially in gathering together in his name. They didn’t take it lightly. They didn’t assume the opportunity would always be there. They didn’t take the easy way out with other events demanded their attention. They were much like the early Christians who gathered in the catacombs out of fear of the authorities.
Would we be so casual about this tremendous opportunity that is afforded us if it cost us more? If it cost us our very life… or our tongue? Isn’t it true that that which we take lightly we are always in danger of losing? We don’t always take advantage of our freedom to worship. It is a precious gift… an important precious gift. May we treat it with respect that is deserves.
Make us mindful of those who are willing to risk their lives in order to gather in your name. We pray that you will stand guard over them and protect them. We praise you for their faithfulness in light of the physical challenge which they face on a daily basis. May we treat the privilege of worship with the same the same heart and mind as those individuals.