We Have No Right to Be Here

This is Easter Sunday. This is like the Church’s Super Bowl or NCAA Championship. And we’re glad that we have so many guests here with us this morning. Some of you may have grown up in the church. For some of you, this may be your first time, and you’re trying to figure out what is this church all about. There’s three things that we talk about a lot here. We worship Jesus. We serve one another in this church. We seek the good of the cities, of the people outside in our community, people like you.

This is our weekly worship gathering, where we as a family worship God the Father in the name of his Son Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And if you’re not a Christian or a follower of Jesus, we’re glad you’re here and we invite you to observe and listen in and remember some questions to ask the person you came with.

This is the part of the service each week where we talk about sin. And if you’ve never been here, you might think this is an odd thing to do. Why are Christians always going on about sin? Why do they have to be so negative, talking about sin and disobedience and rebellion and failure?

We want to talk about sin and brokenness and evil and disobedience to God, because we love, we need the forgiveness of sins that God offers us in Jesus. We talk about sin because we want to talk about forgiveness, and you can’t understand how wonderful it is to be forgiven if you don’t realize how badly you need it. At this church, we feel that we, as Christians, need a weekly reminder that we fall short of God’s standards and that he embraces us anyway, that we come to God not because of what we’ve done, but only because of what Jesus has done for us and what Jesus is doing in our lives. We’re coming into the presence of a holy and good God and in ourselves, we have no right to be here. And so we want to remember and acknowledge that fact.

So here are some questions that are worth asking:

  • This week, have you thanked God for his many kindnesses to you? He made you. He gives you everything good in your life. Have you acknowledged this fact? Or have you tried to enjoy his good gifts to you apart from him, acting as though he didn’t give them to you? That’s ingratitude.
  • This week have you loved God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your mind and all of your strength? Has he been central in your life? Or is he on the margins, at the periphery? Have you treated him as unimportant, as though other things are more valuable and important than him? That’s idolatry.
  • This week, have you loved you your neighbor as yourself? Have you treated them the way you want to be treated? Have you considered their interests as more important than yours? Or have you gossiped about them or gotten angry with them or envied them or felt superiors to them?

These also are sins.

And any one of these could keep us from God’s presence. He is totally justified in casting ungrateful, proud, angry rebels out of his presence. But instead he offers us a way back. I’ll say more about that in the sermon.

For the moment, it’s enough to know that there is a way back, and it starts with confessing our sins.

Prayer of Confession

Our Father and God, you are good. We are not. You give us life and breath and everything, and we act like you don’t exist, like you’re nothing to us. We treat you very lightly. We take your good gifts—family, wealth, sunny Spring days, a night of laughter with old friends, fish tacos with lime salsa, whatever good things that we love—and we don’t acknowledge you. We don’t thank you for them, and we don’t keep you in mind at all. This is a great evil.

What’s more, as your covenant people who ought to love your counsel in your word and ought to delight in your people, we confess that we lean on our own wisdom and understanding, and we grumble and complain about others. We envy them or gossip about them. We don’t delight in your people. So we pray that you would forgive us for our idolatry and our self-reliance and our selfishness and our foolish attempts to do things our own way. Renew our hearts that we might enjoy everything in you and you in everything. Be our God.

We know, Father, that if we in the Church regard sin in our own midst, or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. And so we confess our individual sins to you now.