What motivates you in your faith? Most of you reading this article attend church regularly. Why? What keeps you coming? What drives you?
For some it could be obligation. They feel an obligation to their family, to their parents, to their spouse, or even to God. That obligation motivates them to come on Sunday mornings. That person comes in, sits in a pew, and checks off an attendance box in his or her mind. “Hey, I was there,” they claim. “What more do you want?”
It could be habit. They’ve always attended and see no reason to stop now. “My family is here. I’ve always come. I’m just used to being here. What else would I do?”
Could it be guilt avoidance? You don’t want to feel bad inside, and coming to church soothes the conscience. A couple of aspirin deadens the leftover effects of Saturday night, and a little worship cleanses the mind of that ache in the heart.
I know for me, in my earliest years, I simply loved God and I wanted to be pleasing to him. So, I came to church despite my inherent desire to sleep in. Later, it was about relationships. My friends were there, and I liked spending time with my friends.
Whatever the reason, most of you reading this come to worship nearly every week. Week after week after week.
And, I want you to really take a few minutes to consider your motivation.
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
After starting so well in my early years by loving God and loving my friends, my motivation to attend and participate began to wane later on. I found myself losing my desire to serve. I wanted to blend into the crowds and become anonymous. I went through a period where I didn’t want to do anything but go through the motions. Frankly, sometimes I still struggle with that desire to fade into the background. We probably all battle it from time to time.
I have a problem, however.
The problem is that the only way I can successfully fade into the background and be an anonymous member is to let my faith decline. Why? Because faith runs counter to anonymous Christianity. Faith produces work. It makes you serve. Faith kicks you in the pants and tells you to volunteer. If it is real, you can’t sit on it. You cannot ignore it. The only way to deny faith its response it to deny it a home in your heart—to sear it with the hot iron of selfish desire.
I have another problem.
I can’t sit back and be idle here at Southeastern because I love God and I love his family. Love is an obstacle to idleness because it prompts labor. Love is a poke in the side to keep me going. If I truly love God and love his family, that love prods me to serve. I must be involved. To deny the labor that love demands is to excise it from your priorities. Or, to misplace that love on other things.
My last problem is hope.
Since I know of the hope of my eternal life in Christ and the promise of residing in the presence of the glory of God, I know that I cannot simply quit. I must endure. I must revive myself when my spirit is weary, and I must do what one of my old mentors used to say: “Keep on keepin’ on.”
Occasionally, I need to remind myself of David’s prayer in Psalm 51:12. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
Now, let me ask you again. What is your motivation? Is it faith, love, and hope? Or is it something else.
Week after week, we have opportunities to serve posted in our bulletin, and week after week no one steps up. We need singers on the praise team, but no one wants to make the commitment. We need people to lock and unlock the doors, but we don’t want to come in a little early or stay a little late to take care of that simple need. We need people to change the sign, but that might mean coming in on some day other than Sunday. We need teachers for our children, but they are a lot of work.
Every ministry needs help. Do we really need to track you down and beg you to serve?
Do you have the faith that will move you to step into one of these roles? Do you have the love to prompt you to labor? Do you know the hope that keeps you going when you get weary?
Folks, if you love God and you love this church, step out and step up. Put your faith into action. There are a few among us who have been volunteering all along, and some of them are tired. They need your help. They need your support.
If we all work together, we can do amazing things as a church. However, it does require faith, hope, and love.
And, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13b