I want to jump right into this post to spare details that would require me to rehash feelings and memories that once left me spiritually paralyzed.
But I can’t.
These words need to be written and poured out from the aching fluid in my joints that have crippled my legs.
There was a time when I claimed my spot at the altar. It was an unspoken reverence that relished because I could safely walk forward to the front of the church. I didn’t have to worry about people staring or judging or assuming. I could kneel and figuratively lay my burdens at the feet of Jesus.
The altar is a sacred place. The rich history of it’s versatility is scattered throughout the Bible. In the church today, the altar serves as a place of prayer, a way to the pulpit, a setting for the Easter cantata, and much more. One could easily argue the functionality.
However when viewed through the broken lens of idolatry, the altar can bring pain.
When Viewed through the broken lens of idolatry, the altar can bring pain.
Taking a trip back to those times, I remember that when it was time for prayer, almost everyone in that small country church came forward. Among those left in the pews were a handful of persons that were possibly crippled by their own various diseases. At the time, my autoimmune disease was under control. I was able to walk forward, find my place, and effortlessly kneel down on the floor. It was a special moment.
As time passed by, the false doctrine that was being preached continually pierced my heart. I was under a fake conviction that I had to look and be a certain type of person for Christ to accept me. I honestly believed that if I missed church that God was watching over me in heaven with a look of deep disapproval; not taking into consideration that I couldn’t possibly attend a particular Sunday because I was puking my guts up in the bathroom. It didn’t matter.
I honestly believed that if I missed church that God was watching over me in heaven with a look of deep disapproval…
Prayer is a sacred gift that Christians are given through salvation.
In the midst of a painful divorce, I walked through the doors Ridgeview Baptist Church in hopes of finding relief from my heartache.
Not only did I find relief, I found new friends, new ministry opportunities, and most importantly, a new doctrine.
The difference in worship, preaching, and teaching was a blaring signal in my soul that I had been duped.
The love that flowed here was not from false pretense of how good I could pray or my attendance record. It was the unconditional type toward which the Bible calls all Christians.
Over time, my beliefs changed and God’s amazing grace became a thing.
Never once did I consider the words from the old hymn as I did when I realized that God’s love for me was not dependent on my physical posture at the altar.
Yes, I still think that if God is calling you toward the front of the church that you should go. I believe that it is still a beautiful response for healing, help, and encouragement.
We are to encourage one another to good works, but, working is not kneeling at the cross. Helping a sister pray through a difficult time looks more like Jesus than bent knees with a heart of idolatry. Consider the text:
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”–though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left…
Jesus paid it all.
Religion has no place in the house of the Lord. Jesus’s death on the cross was the abolishment of such practices that would cause us to fall into the trap of the law.
The law smothers love. It handcuffs grace to the idea that we are good enough to save ourselves.
Because we love Jesus is the answer to those burdensome rituals that press down and squeeze life from our already bruised bodies.
I may make it to the altar again one day.
Until then, I am reassured that God sees the posture of my heart.