|Volume 18 Number 10 October 2016||
Mark T. Tonkery
I knew of a couple once who traveled about two and half hours one way to go to worship services. They lived in the Northeast of the United States, and this was the closest congregation of the churches of Christ for them. This family was dedicated and determined to worship the Lord. How are far would we be willing to go to worship?
In the Bible, we read of an individual who was dedicated to worshiping the Lord – the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. The Scriptures tell us that the Ethiopian eunuch was traveling back home to Ethiopia after going to Jerusalem to worship. He would have traveled hundreds of miles by chariot just to go to the Temple of the Lord. While there, he would have only been able to go to the Court of the Gentiles because of his status as a eunuch. This would be kind of like someone today traveling hours away to go to a Gospel meeting only to get to the church building and being allowed to stand on the front porch. Yet, the Ethiopian eunuch was determined to go anyway to worship the Lord.
As the Ethiopian was returning home, he continued to nurture his faith by studying the Bible, reading from the prophet Isaiah. His personal Bible study led him to the conversation with Philip in which the Ethiopian believed and was baptized (Acts 8:35-40).
Now just imagine if the Ethiopian eunuch had said, “It’s too far to go to worship.” Or, “Why should I go to worship; I don’t get anything out of it.” Or, “I’m spiritually strong enough that I don’t need to go to worship.” “I am too tired or sleepy to go to worship.” Or, a hundred other excuses that are so common today. Do you think we would be still talking about him if he made excuses like some do today? Do you think we would have his example of conversion if he was not willing to come to worship and study the Scriptures? Do you think he would have confessed his faith and would have been baptized if his heart was not open to the message of God?
Many times people make up all kinds of excuses for not coming to worship and Bible study. However, have you thought about what is missed when we skip worship? First, we miss an opportunity to worship the Lord. God wants us to worship Him (John 4:23). Second, we miss an opportunity to fellowship. Philip and the Ethiopian would have never been able to fellowship if he never went to Jerusalem. Third, we miss an opportunity to learn more about the Lord and the Scriptures. The Ethiopian was reading Scripture. Fourth, we miss an opportunity to be a positive example to others. The Ethiopian is a positive example because he was willing to worship the Lord, but what about us? What kind of example are we setting for our family and friends when we skip worship? Fifth, we miss an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord. If the Ethiopian would have not gone to worship the Lord, he would have not been taught what he needed to do to become a Christian.
How far is too far to go to worship when our souls are in question? What do we need to do to be in worship and Bible Study on Sundays and Wednesdays? If the Ethiopian eunuch would not allow hundreds of miles of hot and dusty desert roads, by the way of a chariot, to deter him, why would we allow anything to keep us from worshiping our Lord and Savior? Think about it!
The Hebrew writer said, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” (Hebrews 12:1). Our journey to eternity is encompassed with many obstacles. The burden of excess baggage (weight) will only hinder us on our journeys, and it may lead to a failure on our part to complete a successful race.
Too often we are like the man who drowned in the sea because he refused to remove from his waist the money belt full of gold that weighted him down. From our everyday lives we can see the danger of excess baggage. How often have we seen on television or read in the newspaper where individuals lost their lives because they refused to release objects that caused their deaths? How many have died in burning buildings because they tried to save wealth accumulated over the years? Someone has well said, “Things in the saddle are riding mankind.” How much excess baggage are you carrying?
To the Christian, this world and what it contains is not our final resting place or possession. Yet, often the excess baggage we accumulate hinders us in our pilgrimage and confuses our priorities.
The charge is as clear today as when spoken by the Hebrew writer. Their sin was unbelief. Is it possible that we suffer from the same problem? Or, is it pride, vanity, worldliness, an ungovernable temper, corrupt imagination or some improper and unholy attachment? Whatever it may be, we must lay it aside.
Brethren, our life’s labor is to do God’s will and be pleasing to Him. Whatever weight we have holding us back now will also hinder our entrance into heaven. If our race is to be a successful one, let us not be impeded by unnecessary baggage. Let us lay it aside and look unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).