We go to church, we go to church, we go to church!
Jer. 7:1 ¶ The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Jer. 7:2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the LORD.
Jer. 7:3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.
Jer. 7:4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”
The Israelites were facing destruction at the hands of the Chaldeans. Somehow they thought that if they ran to the temple they would be saved. While they had not worshipped the LORD, nor cared for his temple, now, in the midst of a crisis they thought that their presence in the temple would bring about their salvation.
Jeremiah knew that this was a deceptive thought of safety. Their words would ring hollow and he seems to mock them by three times saying, “This is the temple of the LORD.” No matter how many times they wanted to declare that the building was the temple of that LORD, as long as they continued to live in sin and were unfaithful, the temple building would not save them! There is no safety in the LORD’s temple if the people do not serve the LORD himself!
Obviously when we apply this to ourselves today we can hear ourselves saying, “But, we go to church, we go to church, we go to church!” And in that moment of crisis we think that God ought to protect us from what may be coming our way.
Many years ago at a church there was a young man who was dying from leukemia. His father had not always been happy with the pastor and so he would withhold his tithe from time to time to make his point. However, when his son became ill he took the minister aside and said, I’ll pay tithe now, if only God will heal my son!
God doesn’t want us to try and find safety in the church, he wants us to be in a relationship with him. The cry from Jeremiah was for the people to amend their ways and for them to dwell together — God and his people!
Attending church once in a while is not your safety net! Paying tithe when you want something from the Lord, or when you like the Pastor is not your safety net! The only place of safety is in the presence of the Lord. We must amend our ways and be God’s people. Then he will dwell in our midst and keep us in his sheltering arms.
The cries of “we go to church, we go to church, we go to church” will not be enough to save us in the time of trouble.
Lord, please, come and dwell in our midst. Amen.