Have you ever thought, “Church is just boring.” No? Just me? Go ahead then, judge me, I can take it. I have sat through many services criticizing everything going on, imagining how I could do it better, and just wishing the service would end so I could leave. I was bored. It was boring. I wanted more.
The Holy Spirit began convicting me through this season. He challenged me with the thought, “What would it look like to champion and revive a spirit of joy in you life?” I believe the local gathering of believers should be the most joyful place on earth. But that begins with me. It begins with God calling me to walk in joy through my attitudes, my speech, and my life.
Let’s look at Psalm 84 (ESV):
“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
As we unpack this together, I believe Psalm 84 gives us three ways we can champion and revive a spirit of joy in our lives.
Loving the Local Gathering of Believers
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s armies.” (NLT)
During the time that this psalm was written, there was a physical temple God had built in Jerusalem. In the temple there was a place called The Holy of Holies. It's where the Ark of the Covenant rested. On the lid of the Ark were two carved cherubim with their wings stretch towards each other. This was God’s dwelling place. This is where His presence rested.
Today, we carry the very presence of God in us through the Holy Spirit. When we gather as local believers, the Church, God has said that He will be present with us. His presence, in that moment, being made known to everyone there.
It’s easy for us to go to church and criticize how things are done. We say things like, “I don’t like the music. I don’t like what he’s wearing. He preaches too long. The area could use some work. I didn’t like how they did that…” We find ourselves focusing on the visual things, and we begin to criticize and tear down.
Here is where we need to remember the big picture, God is present. He is there in our midst. Instead of criticizing we should be asking, “God, what do you want to do through me in this moment?” When we ask this we go from criticizing to encouraging. We move past ourselves and see the needs of those around us. We being to love the local gathering of believers.
Having an Eager Expectation and Meeting with God
Let’s check out the first part of verse 2, “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord”
Have you ever thought, “Why we are bored with church?” Like really thought about it. I’ve read this psalm so many times, and every time I’m struck by the language of verse 2. The psalmist cannot wait to be in the very presence of God. Eugene Peterson puts it beautifully in the Message, “I’ve always longed to live in a place like this, always dreamed of a room in Your house, where I could sing for joy to God-alive!”
I desire for everything in me to feel this way! I ask myself, “Do I have an eager expectation to meet with God? Do I expect to open up God’s Word and that He’ll speak to me? Do I expect that God wants to speak in the moments when I meet with other believers?”
Things in our lives become mundane too easily, and we start to go through the motions. We have moments when reading the Bible feels like a duty instead of an opportunity for God to speak. We have seasons where praying feels like a chore not a conversation. But let’s take a moment to remind ourselves we get to meet with the God of the universe! The one who created us, breathed life into our lungs, knew us before we were formed, and says “I love you, and I’ve adopted you as my son or my daughter.” We are meeting with the God who spoke things into existence. The God who pursues me. The God who pursues you.
This reminder should change things for me. I should have an eager expectation in my life. I should have a longing to meet with God.
I’ve changed behaviors and language in my life because of this. My “quiet time” is now “the speaking place” because I believe that God will speak to me in those moments. I step into every service with an expectation to hear from God. I ask myself continually, “Am I going through the motions, or am I longing to meet with God?”
Our Whole Being Praising God
The last part of verse 2 says, “my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
My heart and my flesh - This one is challenging for me.
Have you ever had moments where your heart feels it, but your body is not acting with it? Or the opposite, where your body is singing out, but there is little to no joy in your heart? I’ve been there. I still am there. I find myself in the tension of believing in my heart yet feeling nothing outwardly. Or outwardly praising yet feeling empty inside. The psalmist reminds us our whole being needs to be praising God.
In life, we can’t praise God just when we feel like it. Whatever we do, we do with whole being for God. The reality is that our whole being should be into praising God. We praise Him because of who He is. We praise Him because of what He’s done. We praise Him because of what He will do. We praise God with our heart and body. Everything in us should be shouting His praise.
If we believe in Jesus we have gone from death to life! The church should be the most joyful place on earth. Our hearts should be so full of joy we cannot help but sing to God.
So why am I bored with church? Why do I leave a gathering feeling empty? I don’t want to anymore. I want to be a person championing a spirit of joy! I want to be known for loving the local church, having an eager expectation to meet with God, and praising God with everything in me.