This story was written on February 20, 2011, and is reposted from another blog.
It was a brisk 43 degrees this morning as I made my way to the corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road, on the northwest side of town. I wanted to carry the cross and do some stoplight preaching, before I headed to church with the family.
Even with the cool temperature, the sun felt warm on my face. The air was fresh and the skies were clear. It was a beautiful morning and I praised God for His sovereign, creative power. He is the greatest artist who, by His grace, allows the rain to fall (and the sun to shine) on the just and the unjust alike.
Being Sunday morning, from the corner it was easy to tell who was heading to worship. And it soon became apparent that people were heading places to worship many different gods.
Certainly, there were those heading to church to worship the one, true God--the God of the Bible. Certainly there were born-again followers of Jesus Christ among the throngs of vehicles on the road, early this Sunday morning. Some of them identified themselves with their waves and thumbs in the air. Others identified themselves as they rolled down their windows to listen to the one-minute preaching of the gospel, and then waved or said, "God bless you, or "Praise God and thank you for preaching."
But then there were the worshipers of other gods--gods of recreation, sport, and fitness. Some towed their gods on trailers--gods made in the image of bass boats and motorcycles. Some road passed my corner on bicycles--atop thousand-dollar gods, wearing the priestly garb of fancy jerseys and colorful helmets. Still others came by my corner at a much slower pace--walking and jogging to make sure they keep their god healthy and trim, presentable before the altar--the mirror.
Then I wondered. I wondered how many of the worshipers of false gods that came passed my corner were also professing followers of Jesus Christ.
Can a true follower of Jesus Christ take a walk, go for a jog, take a bike ride, or even hit the lake for a time before church on Sunday morning? Of course. These activities, in and of themselves, are not inherently sinful for the Christian. But I wonder how many worshipers I saw this morning who substituted corporate worship of the Lord Jesus Christ to worship the other before-mentioned gods.
Does a true follower of Jesus Christ have to worship on Sunday morning? No. Can unavoidable circumstances in life force a Christian to find places of worship that meet corporately on Saturday night or Sunday night, or another time during the week? Certainly.
But I wonder how many followers of Jesus Christ missed church this morning in my area to take to the slopes, because of the snow that fell the night before? How many followers of Jesus Christ missed church this morning because the rain had stopped and the fish would be biting? How many followers of Jesus Christ missed church this morning because now that the weather was clear they had their first opportunity in days to ride their bike or don their jogging apparel?
All tempting activities, I know--and again, activities that, in and of themselves, are not sinful. But as I heard said the other day: "Every response to temptation is an act of worship. You will either worship self, or you will worship God" (Pastor Mark Dutton, Faith Baptist Church).
Do I sit in an ivory tower looking down upon Christians who fall prey to temptations such as these on a beautiful Sunday morning? No. I, too, have sinned in this way. But seeing hundreds of cars pass by my corner during the hour I was there this morning, it provided me with an interesting view of Sunday morning worshipers--worshipers of the one true God, and worshipers of false gods, of many kinds.