Same Old Thing Syndrome

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
    in your gates, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
    according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

  • Psalm 122:1-9

“There is probably not another field of human activity where there is so much waste as in the field of religion. …
“In the average church we hear the same prayers repeated each Sunday year in and year out with, one would suspect, not the remotest expectation that they will be answered. It is enough, it seems, that they have been uttered. The familiar phrase, the religious tone, the emotionally loaded words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshiper is no nearer to God, no better morally and no surer of heaven than he was before. Yet every Sunday morning for twenty years he goes through the same routine and, allowing two hours for him to leave his house, sit through a church service and return to his house again, he has wasted more than 170 twelve-hour days with this exercise in futility. …
“I need only add that all this tragic waste is unnecessary. The believing Christian will relish every moment in church and will profit by it. The instructed, obedient Christian will yield to God as the clay to the potter, and the result will be not waste but glory everlasting.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Born after Midnight

I wrote about this psalm once before in Sunday-itis, with quotes from Billy Graham and Eugene Peterson.  It seems to be an age-old problem – boredom.

The Henry van Dyke hymn set to the tune by Beethoven does not start, “Boring, boring, we endure you.”  The words are “Joyful, joyful, we adore you.”  If we truly adore someone, it is never boring.

Even though I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, I was quite bored in a traditional church setting.  But these days, I prefer the traditional setting.  I like the music better and I am comfortable with the order of worship, rather than having a free-flowing lack of order of worship.  Rev. Tozer writes about his own church services as being haphazard.  They ranged from glorious worship to “what were we thinking” in that he fought having a set order of worship.

But some of my most enjoyable worship times have been in the movie theater.  The new biography of how C. S. Lewis came to know Jesus is wonderful.  The movies about God is Not Dead are wonderful.

But after being bored with the traditional worship services and now loving them, what makes the difference?

I started taking notes in case the pastor said something that I might like to use in a blog post.  But then I found that style of active listening caused me to pick up nuances within the sermons.  I had always tried to get something out of the sermons, but now I am guaranteed to get something.  I might get a cramp in my hand while feverishly writing, but the pastor touches my heart every Sunday.

I remember hearing someone say a long time ago.  “Preacher, you stopped preaching at some point in your sermon and started meddling.”  But I think the meddling sermons are when you really are preaching.  Most good pastors these days will give a “nice” sermon, but if you are paying close attention, like when you are feverishly taking notes, you catch those short soundbites where the pastor meddles.

And in the process of getting your heart skipping a beat, you grow.  We cannot be those perfectly self-assured kingdoms within ourselves, perfect and unassailable and also grow as a Christian.  It is not just the lack of humility in that, but it is the concept that we might – I know this is hard to believe – but, we might be wrong about something or at least not perfectly right.

And when it comes to worship in Heaven, I think everyone there will turn to those around them and say, “Wow, how we got it wrong on the first earth.”  For one, we will be in the presence of God, but for another thing, our own broken selves dreamed up the order of worship and chose the songs and then got those bored people singing the songs.  No, no church is perfect, even those that have the place “rockin’.”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Excellent thoughts! I love how you put into words the same experience I have had taking notes during the preaching. It’s almost impossible to get bored doing that. And you remember and perhaps initially grasp the sermon better because of the process.

    Liked by 1 person

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