Rote, Rut, Rot
by Joseph Franks
God saved Israel from her bondage, and then brought her to the foot of his holy mountain. At Sinai she was loved, fed, instructed, organized, and encouraged. Then God said to her, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey.” (Deut. 1:6-7) Gathering for worship was wonderful, but it was time for her to walk and work.
Following Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the disciples rightly gathered in an upper room to worship. However, they were not to to be monks cloistered behind closed doors. They had a story to tell to the nations, and when Pentecost came, it was time for them to walk and work.
Paul told the Corinthians that knowledge has a tendency to puff up an individual. (1 Corinthians 8:1) When someone was only a Spirit-filled and Spirit-gifted container, and never a Spirit-used servant or bestower of blessing, that individual became lethargic, arrogant and bloated. Such a person was a lover of God’s Word, and a lover of God’s gifts, but not a lover of God’s people or mission.
James taught his people the importance of hearing and doing the Word. It was a good practice for God’s people to sit through sermons and Sunday school lessons. It was a good thing for Christians to sit under teachers and read their writings. However, unless one put the wisdom of God to work, one was not to expect blessing.
Similarly, A.W. Tozer bemoaned the condition of his church. In a sermon which compared his spiritual family with Israel, Tozer noted they were a people of routine, who had been stuck in a rut, and had begun the process of rotting. It was time for them to leave their pews and work with Christ in expanding the Kingdom of God.
Several decades ago, Amy Grant and Gary Chapman wrote a song conveying this concept. The lyrics were as follows:
I love to sing and I love to pray; I worship the Lord most every day
I go to the temple and I just want to stay; to hide from the hustle of the world and its ways
Praising the Father is a good thing to do; I worship the trinity in spirit and truth
But if we worship all of the time; there would be no one to lead the blind
Well I am not saying that worship is wrong; worship is more than just singing a song
It’s all that you say and everything that do; it’s letting His spirit live in you
I love to live on a mountain top; fellowshipping with the Lord
I love to stand on a mountain top; because I love to feel my spirit soar
But I must come down from that mountain top; to the people in the valley below
Or they’ll never know that they can go; to the mountain of the Lord
Friends, let us obey the Lord and gather for worship. Let us not think this to be unnecessary. We need to be encouraged by Christ and his friends. We need to use our spiritual gifts and encourage others. One cannot go very far for Christ without a full tank. Corporate worship is vital.
Additionally, let us become very intelligent. Let us learn from sermons, classes, and books. Let us never be satisfied with the amount of biblical knowledge we possess. Never have we exhausted the truth found in the pages of God’s Word. Learn our biblical theology. Develop a solid and logical systematic theology. Work hard in our studies; be not complacent; never should we be satisfied with old knowledge. Let us voraciously read, study, and memorize the Word of God. But let us do this that we might walk in holiness and learn to be teachers. By this point in our lives, after so many books and sermons, we ought to have an army of Christians ready to proclaim God’s truth and disciple the masses.
Fellow soldiers of Christ, it is time for us to go to war. It is time for us to leave the books and leave the assembly. Our culture is the way it is because of the distant, complacent, and bloated church. We have become sponges that have been adequately soaked with God’s Word, but are found sitting in God’s container, and rotting away. It is time for us to “turn away from the mountain and take our weekly journey.” It is time for us to “hear, and then do something.” It is time for us to “worship, and then work.” It is time for us to “be fed, and then leave the table to feed others.” We should put down our books and pick up our phones. We should cease being at the church every time the doors are open, because we are opening our doors to our neighbors. There comes a time for us to quit listening to sermons and lectures because we are busy speaking forth God’s wisdom and truth. Let us get off our knees, leave our prayer closets, and run the race set before us.
Yes we should worship. Yes we should fellowship. Yes we should pray. Yes, we should learn. However, some have worked themselves into a rut and cannot see over the edges of their self-made ditch. Perhaps this is the wake up call that will keep some from rotting away and leaving their world unaddressed and unimproved.