Five years ago, July 3, 2011, is a day I cannot forget. It was the first time I had been to church service in quite some time. I had been to Bible study, Sunday School, and other things but not a service where the Word of God is to be preached (Baptists sometimes call it “big church”).
I went with a hard heart. And what I saw made me weep. It was song after song of America worship. Even the preaching of the Word was less about God and more about the worship of America. This was my perspective of church on this holiday (and others like it). It is still my perspective. Which church has the biggest flags? No wait, which one has the most small flags all over the grass? No wait, which one has the most patriotic theme inside? I could go on. And there is no doubt that many (most?) of these people worshiped America more than they worshiped the God who created the universe.
I left church service that day and cried. I cried for the church. I cried for our country. I cried for myself. When did America become an idol for the church? When did the time of worship for God turn into a worship of America? Christian – this is not your country! We are foreigners, exiles, sojourners in this world. We are worshipers of the one true God.
The following day, July 4, 2011, the weeping continued. I went to my office and opened my Bible and began reading Philippians.
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. –Philippians 2:1-2
When I got to those verses, the love of God overwhelmed me. God saved me in that moment and my life changed.
I got a text this morning.
Praying that the pride in our nation that is preached today across our country will not hinder us from loving and going to the nations…this Sunday is a rough one for me.
My response was to be encouraged because God saved me five years ago on a holiday weekend just like this one. It brought me to tears. Weeping once more because of the grace He has poured into my life. Despite all the bad things I continue to do, His grace has saved me.
I have been fighting apathy, bitterness, anger, and lack of caring for people for an amount of time I would rather not disclose. I plead with God to free me of these things, put me back like I was, in love with Him and His grace, in love with the image bearer of God. And yet here I am a broken vessel. He reminded me of something this morning. Something I now recognize that He has been showing me for a few days (weeks?) – God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing (1 Corinthians 1:28), but I am a worm, not a man (Psalm 22:6), but who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? (Romans 9:20).
Praise be to God that He delights in saving the sinful immoral outcast. –David Platt
God came into this world to save sinners. Like me. Like you. Praise be to God.