The whole world watched earlier this week as the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was on fire. Every news outlet reported on the tragic devastation of the flaming inferno. However, there was another tragedy going on before the fire ever started. Notre Dame Cathedral like many, if not most, of the cathedrals in Europe is known more for its architecture, art, and tourists than for the worship it was designed to inspire. One writer with the Religious News Service said it this way: “Inside, more selfies took place than prayers, and there were more art connoisseurs among its enthusiasts than worshipers.” This doesn’t minimize the loss of a great building; it just adds another layer to the tragedy.
People stop going to church for many reasons. Some stop walking with Jesus one day at a time, and when they become spiritually empty, they walk away. Some get upset or discouraged by what they expected God or the church to do for them. Most of the time, this involves the mindset that church is about “me” and what I can get out of it. Others are disillusioned when they feel mistreated by church members or when Christians they look up to have moral failures. However, for most church attenders, even those who are born again, it really comes down to what’s going on in their hearts –is the Holy Spirit being quenched or honored?
If you attended church last Sunday (Palm Sunday) but didn’t have a personal encounter with God, it wasn’t because God wasn’t there desiring communion with you. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” God is seeking you. Are you seeking to hear His voice, and do you respond by offering a “sacrifice of praise” in worship?
The spiritual emptiness of much of Europe points to a lesson for Christ-followers everywhere: Spiritual emptiness comes when worship becomes something you watch instead of something you do. Is worship something you observe rather than something you participate in? This Sunday (Easter) as we sing and pray and read God’s Word and praise God for the resurrection of Jesus, let’s all listen and respond to God’s “still, small voice” by worshiping Him with all our hearts!