Don’t Smother the Guest of Honor
29“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. —Acts 4:29-31
Those first Christians knew God was among them. They prayed confidently, lived boldly, and saw God do amazing things. Where did you notice the presence of Christ last week in church? You were there, right? Was He? How could you tell? I’m amazed how often I hear people admit to having attended church for years without wondering exactly where and when God showed up. Because taking His presence for granted is not worship, and ignoring His presence is downright dangerous—for us.
I am reminded of the most horrific newspaper article I think I ever read. Actually I read it in a sermon illustration book which said it was from the newspaper . . . which means it probably never happened, but was invented by a pastor working feverishly on Saturday night to complete his message for the next morning.
The story is about a celebration for a newborn baby boy. Seems some partiers in Boston got together to celebrate a young couple’s first child. Brothers brought babes and booze. Coats were hurriedly stowed in the back bedroom as the music turned up and the celebration shot into orbit. Somewhere along the line though, the obvious question worked its way to the surface . . . why have we not seen the baby we are celebrating? A frantic search ensued and the baby was tragically discovered smothered. Blue and beyond hope at the bottom of the pile of coats in the back bedroom, the baby was tragically forgotten in the midst of the celebration thrown in his honor.
Let God be remembered in the midst of His church, let Jesus Christ be proclaimed and petitioned and adored in the center and as the center of His church. Let the Holy Spirit move in power drawing every person gathered deeper into the life-giving presence of Jesus in His church. Let God Himself be the main attraction at church again and let us be tireless in our insistence that church is for God, about God, through God, and to the glory of His great Son.
Prayer - Father, forgive me for those times when I went through the motions in church. Forgive me for ignoring You in my haste to see other people, share the news, find a seat, observe what others were doing, and never getting around to worshipping You with my whole heart. Guide me this week to have a more vertical attitude when I enter Your house. I’m anticipating Your presence. If I miss anything, let it not be You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 Found throughout the internet, this cautionary tale has been deemed a legend by Snopes.com, with recognition of the point it makes.