Hope for Sin-Stained Worshipers

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

Scenario 1: Sunday morning you come into the meeting to sing to the Lord together with the saints. You’ve already had a conflict with your wife, spoken harshly to your kids and complained about the pothole in the parking lot. And when you get to your usual row there’s a college kid with azure hair sitting in your seat.

The first song begins and you begin to clap, noticing the worship leader is wearing tennis shoes and his shirt is untucked. Didn’t that kid’s father teach him anything about how to dress on Sunday? And he’s leading us in worship!

You begin to sing “Sing praise to the Lord, our God and King, his love endures forever…” and a few drops of joy begin to trickle into your heart. You close your eyes and lift your hands. God is so good and loving.

Then your 13-year old son walks in front of you and heads toward the back of the room. You whisper to your wife, “Where’s he going?” “To the bathroom,” she answers. A wave of irritation washes over you. “Why didn’t he go at home?”

Suddenly you realize you haven’t been singing for the last 2 minutes. You try to get back into it, but, wow are those drums loud! Can’t they do anything about that? Oh Lord, forgive me, now where was I? “His love endures forever…”

Sound familiar?

Scenario 2: Then there’s Gertrude, the skinny, unkempt, tooth-missing, slightly smelly lady who’s always asking you for money who runs into you at the store and asks if you can help her out. You knew this was coming when you saw her. So pulling out a $20 bill, you place it, half sincerely, half reluctantly, into her greasy hand. You’d like to give freely as unto the Lord, but you know your heart isn’t 100% into it. Suddenly, Bill from church walks by, spying you slipping the bill into Gertrude’s hand. You whisper a secret “Yes!” as you imagine Bill telling others, “What a guy he is – I saw him giving that poor woman money.” You imagine your photo on the cover of “Godly People” Magazine, with the caption, “The Most Generous Man Alive” next to your face.

Romans 12 tells us that for believers in Christ, everything we do is an offering of worship to God, whether we’re doing something we would think of as “spiritual,” like praying or serving in Children’s Ministry, or cooking dinner or working on a spread sheet. But our spiritual sacrifices are so pathetic, so blighted by sin, so marred by impure motives – how can the Lord accept them? Our praying and singing is often distracted. Our acts of service and mercy are often flavored with self-glorification.

So how can our sacrifices be acceptable to God?

The key is that our acts of worship are “acceptable to God THROUGH Jesus.” He is the Mediator between God and man, our great High Priest. This means that Jesus takes our flawed and sin-stained offerings, washes them with his blood, and presents them to the Father as perfect.

Without our Mediator our sacrifices wouldn’t be fit for an angel, let alone the Holy One whose eyes are too pure to look upon sin. But through Christ, the Father receives our acts of worship with pleasure and delight.

Let’s praise God today for his glorious Son! Let’s offer him our lives today as his priests made holy by the blood of Christ. And thank God for the kid with the blue hair.

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.