As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. (Psalm 16:3)
Last Sunday, our Call to Worship was taken from Psalm 16. From that passage, one verse in particular echoed in my mind for some time after our gathering had ended. In verse 3 (quoted above) the psalmist revels in the all-out enjoyment of his fellow believers. All my delight, he says, is in the saints. What’s up with that?
The Biggest Problem With Church
I don’t know your church experience. But if you’ve been around for any period of time, you’ve seen some nasty stuff. Growing up in a pastor’s home, I saw my fair share, too. The vast majority of us have witnessed—or perhaps even been part of!—infighting, cliques, moral failure, hypocrisy and/or some other problem arising from within the church.
Therefore, when faced with a verse like this, it can be tempting to rehearse all the ways the psalmist’s testimony differs from personal experience. You might even be thinking, “Delight in the saints? Are you kidding?! The saints are the biggest problem with the church!” But, despite any and all objections, David’s words are still in the Bible and thus we aren’t off the hook.
So getting down to brass tacks, here’s my big question for us, Do you delight in the saints—in the people of LifePoint with whom you gather in Christ each week? Or are you allowing your past experiences to serve as an excuse for remaining skeptical, uninvolved and aloof? You might be tempted to thoughtlessly rattle off an easy Yes to that question because you know it’s the correct answer. But that’s not an option for any of us. I don’t care who you are, there are really only two possible answers to this question. And neither of them are an easy Yes.
An Easy No, Or A Yes, But…
An easy Yes isn’t possible because we are all sinners, and our sin always hinders the relationships we are called to cultivate, albeit to varying degrees. And the church is no exception. Therefore, if we’re willing to honestly wrestle with this question, we will end up answering it in one of two ways: An easy No, or a Yes, But…
An easy No is, well, easy to evaluate. It is the answer of those who remain hard-hearted toward the very saints whom Christ has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Not loving the church, even while claiming to love God, is plain old sin (1 Jn. 4:20). It contradicts the Gospel. It undermines and belittles Psalm 16:3. And it must be repented of now lest you fail to enter the Kingdom of God (which, if you don’t like church people, is actually a miserable place to be since it is filled with, you know, church people!).
The harder answer to the question of delighting in the saints is the Yes, But… This is my answer, and if I had to guess, it’s probably yours too. I love the church. But I still struggle with the people in it, including myself.
Here’s a confession. On one hand, nothing arouses my self-righteousness like “those” Christians who don’t “get it”. And on the other, nothing causes greater self-pity in me than playing the comparison game, wondering why so-and-so makes it look so easy to have their life together—What’s my problem? Why can’t I be more like that?
So there you have it, I tend to either belittle the saints or feel sorry for myself. That’s my biggest hang-up with the church. What’s yours? What’s your easy No? Or your Yes, But…? As long as we struggle with sin, we all have something that hinders us from delighting in the saints. So what do you need to join me in repenting of, so you can more fully enjoy those with whom you will worship this Sunday?
Let’s prayerfully think that through as we stumble toward the throne of grace together (Heb. 4:16). That’s our blood-bought responsibility as a people united by the risen Christ. We must delight in one another in order to live a life of true delight in God Himself.
Liturgy for Sunday, January 17, 2016:
Prelude: Here For You
Call to Worship: Ezekiel 36:25-28
The Glorious Three (no link currently available)
Reading from The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
Sermon from 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Benediction: based on Ephesians 3:16-17