Thursday, August 23, 2012

Selfish Worship

I was talking with some friends on a Saturday not too long ago, and I realized that as we approached midnight, the group split into two camps: those needing to leave because we had church early in the morning and those who hadn’t attended church regularly since we graduated high school. The split didn’t surprise me; I knew who was involved in church and who wasn’t, but the issue doesn’t come up much. Someone merely commented, “I have to get up for church early in the morning.” Then someone else commented, “I don’t think Jesus minds if I pray to him from my pillow.” For some reason, it really irked me. It seemed light-hearted enough, but something about it felt wrong.

I realized what it was as I was in church the next morning. My friend had made the assumption that early morning church attendance was some sort of obligation, perhaps something we did out of habit or guilt or commitment (like making an 8:00 a.m. class in college). Our views were coming from different extremes. My understanding of going to church is completely the opposite. It’s not about clocking in. It’s not about obligation. And even if it should be, it’s not about giving my time and praise to God.

No, my Sunday routine is one of selfishness. I go because I get something out of it. I get to feel calm. I get to feel loved. I get grace washing over me. I get Christ’s presence. I get to take part in a ritual that has connected humanity to God for over a thousand years. I go to feel closer, higher, immortal. Why on earth would that seem like an obligation?

I realize it’s not supposed to be about me. It’s supposed to be about God, about offering up what I can while acknowledging that I don’t deserve all these good graces, and about asking for mercy anyway. But I can’t help but make it about me. I can’t help but think that I get way more from God than God gets from me. My worship is mostly selfish, focused on what all I get from God. It’s hard not to get spoiled when you receive something so undeserved in such abundance. 

While I know I need to work on changing my focus from me to God, I hope I never start to view Sunday morning as an obligation where I hand over an hour of my time just because that's the social requirement.I hope I'm always selfish enough to recognize how much I receive from Mass.

I wish I could show those who don't go to church what they're missing. It doesn't seem fair that I get it more than others. I don't know why I get all these positive things from church while others just get frustrated or bored. I don't know why God pokes me and pulls me in while letting others feel nothing or seek and find nothing. Selfishly, I just want to accept the blessings and hope it doesn't mean He has some grand plan for me.

But He probably does. He does things like that, demanding action from us. I hope I'm not too selfish to ignore Him.

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