It’s no wonder we leave church and can’t wait to get in line at the cafeteria or get seated at the restaurant or gather around the dinner table at home.
We’re sublimating for what we really lack. We’re empty.
We’ve been emptied out by worship.
It isn’t supposed to fill us up. It’s supposed to empty us out.
We brought our handful of grain, our libation poured out, our dove or lamb or bullock and offered them on the altar. We left without them.
Oh, maybe we left with a crumb of bread and a taste of grape in us. Just enough to tingle the senses and ignite the salivary glands.
But we left our songs, our prayers, our smiles and hugs and tears and needs. We left our hopes and our pains. We gave them to God.
It’s no mystery that it never seems like it’s enough. It isn’t. It can’t be. What we bring can never measure up to what we’ve been given. Our sacrifice can never match His.
No matter how good the singing, the preaching, the devotion and fellowship can be, it will never been sufficient; never equal to what our Lord deserves. Deep down, we know that. A thousand tongues would only be a tiny fraction of what there should be.
What there will be. In heaven. That’s the feast we anticipate. That’s what we’re hungry for: to join the voices of millions upon countless millions.
For now, a few dozen will have to do. That, and the comfort of knowing that, just maybe, the same Spirit inspired worship leaders to lead the same song at the same time in the same key at the same tempo in a dozen different churches that morning, and that God heard them all at once and it was closer to what it should be.
Or that He heard the cacophony of all the different songs and keys and tempos and it was music to His ears, like the giggling of toddlers at play is to us.
So we long to see with His eyes and hear with His ears.
And we leave church starved.
Because we’re supposed to.
5 thoughts on “Why We Leave Church Starving”
Yeah but there are times when the Appetizers taste so good, and sometimes you even think your full after you eat them.
Let’s quit pretending we all don’t feel this way, lets be hungry together. A whole church of hungry people. A whole country, a whole world. All mankind hungry, waiting and yearning, what a view that would be for God to see.
I am truly challenged by this thought of leaving hungry, but where I struggle with being hungry is the filling or the indwelling we receive when we enter His presence. Is the presence of His glory not enough fill our emptiness. If we leave hungry then we can’t speak from the overflow of our heart (luke 6:45). I believe there are many people starving and hungry in the world, but I pray it has not come to the point when Christians leave the throne room filling empty.
Papa bear, I understand the way you feel … in fact, one of my favorite old hymns is by Bernard of Clairvaux: “Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men, from the best bliss that earth imparts we turn unfilled to Thee again.”
And the second verse amplifies that filling aspect: “Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood; Thou savest those that on Thee call. To them that seek Thee, Thou art good; to them that find Thee all in all.”
But the third verse communicates that “taste” that just isn’t enough in this life, and that’s what I’m trying to describe in poorer words: “We taste Thee, O Thou living bread and long to feast upon Thee still. We drink of Thee, the fountainhead, and thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”
We leave hungry, hopefully <>because<> we have spoken from the overflow of our hearts.
We set ourselves up for disappointment – I believe – when we go into worship expecting to be filled without being willing to be emptied. When we wish to receive without giving. When, as Brandon says, we gobble up the appetizers as if they were the main course.
Does that make sense?
I like this thought. I makes me feel better about the times I have left empty. Sometimes I thought it was because we didn’t bring our best. I’m not sure we always do, but this ideal helps me focus on me and not what I wish everyone else would do.
We’re supposed to leave hungry? How about all the verses about being filled? How about the story of feeding the 5,000, they weren’t hungry when they left. What about Christ offering his body and blood to feed us?
We don’t have to pay for what we’re getting in church, and we shouldn’t try to pay for it if we’re not getting it.
Maybe it’s not us, maybe it’s the church.