I remember someone describing the setting of a basketball game as thousands of people sitting in the stands who desperately need exercise watching ten guys who desperately need rest! Sometimes this would be a realistic description of the church. A few people are in the game playing their hardest while others are just watching what is going on.
Many “Christians” in the church are MIA, missing in action and missing in attendance. Several seem to have a casual relationship with God and the church. They see attending a church service as something that is optional. I am not talking about the motivation to have a large Sunday attendance. The truth is; we really need to gather together because we really do need each other. The church gathers in order to be built up and encouraged so the church can scatter Monday through Saturday and be salt and light in the world, making it better and brighter.
The Apostle Paul challenged the Christians at Rome not be conformed to this world. Part of our minimal participation problem is because we are so conformed to the world. The world offers so many other things to participate in that we end up over-booked, over-scheduled, and on the verge of exhaustion. There are dozens of other things to do; sporting events, golf, camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, picnics, going out to eat, family reunions, etc. These are all good things, but often a church gathering gets put on the bottom rung of choices. Many “Christians” will attend a church service if there is nothing else demanding their time. The definition of a “regular attender” seems to have changed over the years. It used to mean being at a weekend church service “most Sundays” or at least 3 out of 4 weeks every month. Now “regular attender” means “maybe once a month” if that.
When Paul talks about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice—it is a picture of total surrender. Putting your body on an altar would include all your thoughts and deeds, whatever is included in “all of you.” The idea of “surrendering all” sounds un-American. We Americans rarely give over everything, we usually feel the need to keep something back so we can remain in control.
There’s a subtle difference in how we use the words “commitment” and “surrender.” When we talk about commitment, we often think in terms of “our commitment,” something we can give, but also take back. Surrender has the idea of being “all in” with no strings attached. Players don’t have one foot in the stands and one foot on the floor, they are all in to play and to win.
Reflections: When it comes to church gatherings, do you view yourself as a player or a spectator? Would you say you are all in or partially in when it comes to your home church? Do you see your commitment to Christ as something you can give and take back or do you see it as total surrender?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.