Having worshipped in and pastored congregations large and small (MPCC is my fifth), I have noted that the core principles that mark a happy and loving congregation do not change. Deep in our hearts, there is a yearning for His glory and presence. Without spiritual intimacy, programmes, buildings and gatherings can all sound very hollow.
We were already duly reminded in the letter to the angel of the Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4) that a church can “lose her first love.”
Isaiah 40:31 says, “that they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles… they will run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” To wait - as a servant would for his Master - is to be attentive to Him, to look to Him, to follow Him, to be submitted to Him.
In Hebrews, to Christians, for whom the church assembly has become a wearisome (or even fearsome) thing, the writer urged in 12:1,2 to “run the race”, looking to Him who in the first place gave birth to the church and is perfecting her. It is another picture of pursuit. If we exclude Christ in the Church, the scene of Jesus knocking on our doors that He may sup with us (Rev 3:20) may well speak to us proverbially.
The church can lose her first love and fail to look to Him.
The wheels may still turn - and there are enough resources in Singapore to
ensure that. But we may be missing out on the Center.
In Question 2 in the Rule of St Basil, the inquirers ask: “For we have heard that He ought to be loved, what we want to learn is however, how this can be fulfilled.”
This short article offers no clear or simple answers. But like this ancient
catechism, I urge us to start with the right question and the same concern. We may have missed the mark, the harmatia (Greek for “sin”) of it all. By the help of the Spirit, we need to retrace our steps and find our way again. It may be the heart-numbing effect of habitual sins, the tolling effects of suffering, the deceptive philosophy of secularism, the spirit of religiosity or the neglect of our walk with God. Unless we set our hearts to pursue Him, to wait upon Him, with all our being, we will be lost.
Like Peter in John 21, we need to be queried again by the One who loves us deeply that we may learn again to “love Him more than these”, whatever or whoever the "these" may be for you.