4 Ways to Experience God at Church
I ran into a lady recently who invited me to speak at her book club. I asked her what book they were reading. Her response?
“Oh, we don’t read.”
“You have a book club, but you don’t read? So…what do you do?”
She smiled warmly. “We just love to socialize.”
I thought it was great. Who says women need a reason to socialize anyway? If we want to gather with friends to eat and talk, awesome!
But later it occurred to me that’s how many people view the church–kind of like a club for socializing, but we need an excuse, so we call it “God.” Oh, we aren’t all that interested in what He has to say, but He gives us a great excuse for our gathering.
The Bereans were cut from a different cloth, though.
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Silas traveled from Thessalonica to Berea, both cities in Macedonia. As they arrived in Berea and began preaching at the synagogue, they noticed a different response.
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and men.”Acts 17:11-12, NIV 84
These men and women were hungry for truth. They didn’t show up just for coffee and social hour. Sure, they may have enjoyed time together outside of church. But they came to the synagogue for truth.
First, they were there to receive a message.
The Bereans didn’t go to church for the music, the preacher, or the programs. They went because they wanted to encounter the truth of God’s Word. They were hungry to understand God and His ways.
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘”Matthew 4:4
The Bereans showed up with one agenda: to hear the message.
Second, they were eager.
Our Berean believers didn’t sit back with a “bless-me-if-you-can attitude.” They didn’t sit in a pew, read the Bible verses from the screen, shake a few hands, and go home.
No, these guys were hungry for truth. They were the type who bring their Bibles, take notes, listen attentively, and think of questions to ask later.
“Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.”Proverbs 22:17
Third, they examined the Scriptures for themselves.
The Bereans weren’t content to just take the word of any teaching that came along. They were determined to search the Bible for themselves, because they were hungry for truth, not just fellowship.
The Bible gives us many warnings about false teachers. The reason so many people get led astray by doctrines and philosophies contrary to Scripture is because they don’t search the Scriptures for themselves.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”1 John 4:1
Many are content to sit back and let somebody else feed them, but unless they are willing to examine the food they are being served, they are in danger of being poisoned.
Luke (the writer of Acts) tells us that these Bereans were of “more noble character” than the Thessalonians. To be of more noble character means they were excellent in their way of being and doing.
This excellence means that they weren’t searching the Scriptures to find fault in the speaker, they were searching to find truth.
They confirmed that what Paul was saying lined up with the Scriptures. They compared to see that he wasn’t taking verses out of context. These believers were hungry for truth.
Fourth, they believed.
And as they encountered truth, they believed. They believed the message Paul shared with them–that Jesus was the Messiah, that He suffered and was raised to life, that He truly was the Christ who had come to save them–Jew and Gentile, male and female alike.
What about us? Are we hungry for truth or just starved for attention? Do we go to church to socialize, or do we expect to experience God?
Are we eager to receive the Word, or are we watching the clock and thinking about what we will eat for lunch?
I hear so many people who leave a church because they “aren’t being fed” or they “didn’t like the preacher’s style.”
My heart breaks when I hear that because there are persecuted believers in other nations who would love to have the opportunity we have to sit in a warm (or cool) building and hear someone expound on the Scriptures.
They would be thrilled to have a complete Bible to read and study for themselves. They would be eager to receive the message of truth that we sometimes take for granted.
As long as our pastor preaches the Word, we should have an eagerness to receive it. It’s the Word of God! We don’t go to church to feel good or be fed. We go to church to worship the Living God.
It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.
And you know my friend with the book club? Well, some of those ladies do love to read. Turns out their love for books has become contagious. What started as a ladies’ group many years ago has now become a fellowship of warm hearts who share each others’ lives and seek to do good in their community.
Passion is contagious.
So, let’s be of more noble character and hungry for truth. Let’s have a love for God’s Word that inspires others. And let’s seek to be the Church that God created us to be.
After all, we can socialize any time. And, for that, we ladies don’t even need an excuse.
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