High-Hurdling on Sunday Morning

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

When 1 Corinthians 12:29f. says that “not all are teachers, not all work miracles, not all possess gifts of healing,” it means that we shouldn’t feel bad when we don’t have an ability which someone else has. Instead, we should focus on doing what we are gifted to do. Wouldn’t it be a terrible waste of God’s gift if you were intended to be a “helper” (12:28) but spent all your energy trying to become a “prophet” or “administrator”?

There is a principle here: build on your strengths, don’t bemoan your weaknesses. A sure-fire prescription for church-wide depression is to think only about the things we don’t do well. I don’t mean we should neglect needed improvements. But we should major on exploiting our strengths for God’s glory.

For example, if you were a world class high-hurdler, but also ran one leg for a mediocre relay team, your coach would not want you to give all your energy to improving your relay speed. He knows your potential there is limited. But with work you can take the gold medal in the high hurdles. So he helps you perfect your form and timing in the hurdles. The whole track team will benefit more if you take the gold in the high hurdles than if you lose it and only bring the relay team from 8th to 6th place.

So it is at church. Right now Bethlehem has several outstanding strengths. One of these is our worship. Of course, we can never please everyone. But a very large number of members and visitors say how they are helped to meet God on Sunday morning. This is our high hurdle event. So it seems to me that the biblical principle from 1 Corinthians 12 is that we should not paralyze ourselves with self-pity about some of our weaknesses. But we should go for broke on Sunday morning.

How do we do this? The main thing that has to happen is the creation of a church-wide priority. We must think worship, think worship, think worship. We must enter the sanctuary thinking worship. We must take our seats thinking worship. We must believe and consciously remember: this hour is unique, it is for God. Like no other hour. There are 167 hours in the week for all kinds of good conversation with friends. There is only one hour in which we urge, “Let all the earth keep silent!” Only one hour in which we bow in awed quietness together before the one who says, “Be still and know that I am God!”

There are so few churches who take worship seriously in this way. This is one of our strengths. God is moving in many of our hearts to make us feel his reality as never before. The result is earnestness in worship. Please join me in building on this strength. Enter the sanctuary and pray. You cannot imagine the ministry you will have if you pray. For every bowed head during the prelude five other people will be made still before God. It is hard to converse over a bowed head. Please join me. God is drawing near in the prelude. The fuse is being lit.

I cannot make worship happen. Nor can Bruce. God makes it happen when he gets your attention during the prelude. O Lord, do it, I pray. Build a worshiping people at Bethlehem! Bow us, O God!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne who lives for ever and ever, the twenty four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne…

Hurdling with you,

Pastor John