Read This: “For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: ‘I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.’” (Isaiah 57:15)
Think: No matter how often we hear “come just as you are” at church, it’s not easy to put into practice. There’s a routine to it that’s hard to escape. Nicely dressed people mingle and laugh over coffee, while well groomed children are checked into their classes with a smile and a wave. But too often a routine can begin to feel like an expectation and we lose sight of God’s purpose for us on a Sunday morning.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth.” In Jesus’ day there was a group who became so preoccupied with the appearance of having it all together that they confused it with true righteousness. To them, Jesus had strong words, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too! . . . On the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mat 23: 26, 28). The Pharisees probably didn’t set out to become hypocrites or think of themselves as such. But in the end, they cared more for rules and what other people thought than what God thought.
Admittedly, just getting to church can be a real battle. It would be easier to stay home some mornings. Chances are though; you aren’t the only one showing up frazzled, exhausted, or even annoyed with your family. Being honest with ourselves and with others is at the heart of fellowship so we can learn from each other and grow together. “As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend” (Pro 27:17). Furthermore, God knows us too well to expect us to come with it all together; he is God of the broken. We are his children and there’s no need to act like guests in his house. All he asks is that we come with a heart ready to be molded by him.
Ask: Next time as Sunday morning begins to feel chaotic, what are some steps you can personally take to put things in right perspective again? How can you help your family do the same? How can we as the church make sure we don’t confuse appearances with righteousness as the Pharisees did?
Pray: Spend time thanking God there’s no need for pretenses with him—he knows us inside and out. Ask him to give you humility and courage to be honest about areas of struggle in your life, especially with your Christian family.