I finally made it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. I know, I know, you've already read about my thoughts on Indy here. But something struck me while I was there, and no it wasn't a car doing 220 mph!
I ran into one of my internet buddies back in Gasoline Alley. I don't get to see him often -- it's been almost two years since I had seen him last. It's been discouraging for him lately. He's worked as a crew member on race teams, as well as holding other jobs around the race track. He's been around the Indy Racing League scene for years. Yet for the last few months, he had lost most of his enthusiasm for racing. The last team he worked for had disbanded and the excitement just wasn't there. I had noticed in my cyber-discussions that he wasn't feeling the same as he once did.
When I saw him yesterday, my friend was excited and smiling.
What was the difference between last month and yesterday? He was at Indy. The Speedway. He told me that when he got to the track, things brightened up immediately. This is a man who has stood on the track and started one of the cars when the command, "Gentlemen, start your engines" is given. Just being at the track with the sound of screaming cars, a faint smell of burning rubber and methanol, and a two and a half mile oval with almost 100 years of history dripping from the walls and fences -- it was a refresher. Like the old Aqua Velva television commercial where a man is slapped on each cheek with a palmful of after shave to which the man replies, "Thanks, I needed that." My friend said to me, "I feel great. There's just something about this place that gets under your skin."
After I left my friend and returned to my seat, I began to think about what he had said. And I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if that was how everyone felt about being at church on Sunday morning?"
Let's face it. A sizeable chunk of the congregation each week is simply going through the motions. It's routine. It's something they have to do -- an obligation. They wake up wanting to stay in bed or play golf or watch TV or ANYTHING besides heading to the local house of worship. But if they want to keep a good reputation, they don't dare miss too many Sundays. There is no real trace of worship in their hearts.
But what a Sunday at church should be is a refresher. Like my friend feeling better upon reaching Indy, so too we should find relief in worship. Not from a beautiful or convenient building. Not from finding a good parking spot. Not from getting out quickly to do something more fun. We should be refreshed by the encouragement of fellow believers. We should be refreshed by offering our hearts in worship to our Creator. We should be refreshed by focusing on someone other than ourselves.
A friend of mine has a job where he works four days and then is off work for four days. It fits him and his family's schedule nicely except for the fact that he is at church for four Sundays and then can't be at church for four Sundays. He says he really misses being there for a month at a time. I know what he means. Being a pastor, I don't mind the occasional Sunday off but by Wednesday of the next week, I really need to worship. It catches up with me quickly. Does everyone feel like that? I suspect far too many wouldn't be able to relate to that empty feeling inside -- the God-shaped hole with a few other indentations for fellow Christians.
It doesn't have to be in a church building. It could be a school, a home, a parking lot or anywhere, but God has made us with the innate need to gather together in worship. Private worship is great, but it doesn't fill the bill like corporate worship.
It's Sunday afternoon now, and for all the work that I put in during the week to prepare for Sunday, I am left refreshed. It's not due to a successful service or because my work for the day is done. It's because I experienced and worshiped God in the company of His people.
Are you refreshed?