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home : religion : inspirational reflections March 23, 2019

3/14/2019 11:17:00 AM
Worshipping Is Still Important

Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.

On a recent trip to Israel, I was informed of the difficulties those living in the Northern territory of the Sea of Galilee had traveling to Jerusalem for religious pilgrimages three times a year during Jesus’ day. The distance to Jerusalem was long and there were dangers along the way, especially when robbers knew the pilgrims were carrying coins for sacrifices to be bought at the Temple in Jerusalem. When they arrived in Jerusalem there were money changers who took advantage of the pilgrims who could not use coins with images of people on them to buy their sacrifices. Since they came from Roman surrounded areas they would most assuredly have coins with images of rulers on them. They were cheated in the money exchange, and also overcharged in the purchase of their sacrifice. Over a number of years this became a harder and harder journey to make, causing the residents of Northern Galilee to become apathetic about their religious passion.

Into this sequence of events Jesus entered the picture as a rabbi and teacher. He didn’t excuse their apathy; rather he doubled down on the necessity to remain faithful in the face of such difficulties. He was a teacher who upheld a high standard of expectation for worship and reverence for God. He was a teacher who reminded the people their loyalty was to an eternal God; not the convenience of circumstances. He was the right man for the right moment to inspire faithfulness in the people on the outskirts of the Jewish nation at that time.

When we feel distanced from our faith practices and worship participation, we should remember that Jesus taught folks to double down and make a greater effort unto faithfulness. We would do well to remember: Jesus, Savior of the world, was the giver of forgiveness but also the exhorter unto faithful worship and devotion to God. His was a message of doing the right thing because it pleased God, not for a bargain, not for a blessing or something in return. Still, Jesus knew their faithfulness would be blessed in some way by the hand of God. He challenged people to be intentional and deliberate in their love and devotion to God.

That is our challenge today. Live for God, it’s the right thing to do.

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