It is once again time to prepare for worship. Since the NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing right now I wanted to share an applicable quote from Matt Chandler’s book The Explicit Gospel. The NCAA basketball tournament is oftentimes referred to as March Madness. Matt Chandler calls the tournament March Madness is this powerful quote:
“As I write this, March Madness is going on. It’s the greatest sporting event. (I say that because it’s also the last athletic venue in which David can still beat Goliath. There’s not really another venue like it where a college you’ve never heard of that has, say, eight hundred people in it can upset superpowers in the basketball world.) But here’s the thing about fallen men and women who love March Madness. All over our country, fans are nervous. I’m not joking. They’re nervous in their guts, they want their team to win so badly. They watch the games and yell at their televisions: “No! Yes!” Kids are crying in fear, wives are running for more nachos—it’s chaos. It’s madness. With victory comes elation and surfing a thousand websites to read the same article over and over and over again, and with defeat comes destitution of spirit and days of mourning and moping, angrily arguing on a blog about who really deserved it or an official’s botched call.
Every bit of those affections, every bit of that emotion, and every bit of that passion was given to us by God for God. It was not given for basketball.
Where is the nervousness in our guts when we’re coming into an assembly of those pursuing God? Where is the elation over the resurrection? Where is the desolation over our sins? Where is it? Well, it’s on basketball. It’s on football. It’s on romance. It’s on tweeting and blogging.
Are you really going to believe we’re not worthy of hell?
Thank God for his response to all this blasphemous nonsense: the wrath-absorbing cross of Christ.”
So, as we prepare for worship we might need to confess some idolatry in our hearts. Maybe it has been sports that we have idolized, maybe it is our career, or our families, or perhaps it has been comfort and ease that we have idolized. Rico Tice talks about idolatry and says: “Anything that we serve instead of God is a created thing, an idol. Money, reputation, power, career, family, and so on — our hearts get kidnapped.” Maybe our hearts have been kidnapped by money, reputation, power, career, or family this week. I am convinced that materialism is a massive idol in our churches today, and I am constantly feeling my own heart pulled in that direction. Rico Tice is quick to remind us that we as Christians still struggle with idolatry. He says: “Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically or immediately cure us of this idol-worship. At the heart of all sin is idolatry in the heart — loving and obeying something other than our loving God. I am constantly struggling to keep the Lord Jesus at the center of my heart, to find my identity and assurance and purpose and satisfaction in him.”
Tice continues with this reminder: “We need to ask ourselves, So what does my heart find easy to love more than Jesus? We need to spot our idols, so that we can confess our idols, and so we can begin consciously to seek what we have been looking for from those idols in the only place where we will truly find it — the Lord Jesus. We need to replace our idols with the real God: Christ…
We need to ask the Spirit to go to work in our hearts with the gospel, so that we’ll love Christ more and more, and he’ll displace our idols; and so when we talk about what we love, we’ll be talking about him.”
So, we might need to spend time confessing our idols and repenting of any other sin that the Lord has placed upon our hearts. We should also plead with God to stir up our affections for Him. There is a hymn that was written in 1856 called: More love to Thee, O Christ. That hymn starts with these words:
More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!
So, as we prepare for worship we should on bended knee earnestly plead with God for more love for Christ. We should also spend time praying for the service tomorrow. We should lift up Ian and Erin at the throne of grace as they will lead us in worship. If you could pray for me as I do the confessional tomorrow I would appreciate it. Also, we should lift up Mark at the throne of grace as he will open up God’s Word to us. He will be preaching on Galatians 4:21-5:1. The link to the ESV text is below: