“When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent”
Crisis can have a very clarifying effect upon the human heart.
A Common Concern
Many church leaders today share a common concern. They wonder if the present pandemic will prove to have a permanent impact upon the attendance of their worship services. They worry that a kind of complacency has set in now that people have spent the last year watching the Sunday worship service from the comfort of their homes. Some have concluded that Covid-19 may have significantly changed the landscape of the local church and now church leaders must be willing to change as well.
But what if the reality of a smaller group at Sunday worship reflects a much deeper, more concerning problem? What if the present pandemic is in fact exposing the truth about our spiritual condition—our relationship with God.
During Bible college, I was forced to work a full-time job in order to meet my financial requirements. I was grateful to find a position working security for a major television show in Chicago. I got to witness the intense level of passion and effort that went into each recording. The producers and executives spent more time at the studio than they did at their own homes! That show was their life. Shortly after I graduated, the show would finally come to an end. I was able to walk away thankful for the opportunity and ready to move on to the next chapter in life. Yet, others found it extremely difficult to move on. They were losing something that meant a great deal to them.
Is the Worship of God Your Life?
Joshua was a lover of God. Is that not evident from his choosing to remain in God’s presence long after his leader and mentor had chosen to return home? In that regard, he is was very unlike the majority of the people of his day and ours. His worship of God was not casual or cultural. It was everything. The worship of God was his life.
It is interesting that the preceding verses reveal that whenever Moses would go to the tent of meeting, which was located outside of the camp, “all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent” (33:8). I believe this corresponds to a kind of religious mentality as it relates to worship—a satisfaction in being a spectator instead of having a real, personal relationship with God. And it could be the case that indifference to the privilege of corporate worship is simply indicative of our lukewarmness in our relationship with Christ.
To be sure, the church is not a building, but people. We know that. We should know that. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to view our public worship gatherings as nothing more than religious formalism. These times are deeply spiritual and blessed by God. And I believe that it is the true lover of God that is driven to corporate prayer and worship, believing that there is a very unique experience of the divine grace of Christ when the people of God gather together in His Name.
So, what might the present crisis be revealing about your heart?