By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
SEVIERVILLE — “What is the one thing that God wants? … The one thing that God wants is worship,” said Gary Jared at the Tennessee Baptist Convention annual meeting. The meeting was held as part of the Nov. 13-17 Summit here.
At one time he thought worship was based on how well he preached or how well the baptismal service went, said Jared during the convention sermon.
“A lot of people will miss what worship is all about,” he explained. One of his professors described worship as a person giving God their undivided attention and undivided affection, added Jared who is pastor, Stuart Heights Baptist Church, Chattanooga.
Isaiah experienced true worship in Isaiah 6, he noted.
This was soon after King Uzziah, though a good king, tried to worship God in the wrong way so he was disciplined by God. He developed leprosy. King Uzziah then died before Isaiah had his experience.
Isaiah saw the Almighty, angels, the awesomeness of God, recognized his own unworthiness, was thankful, and responded to God’s will for his life, noted Jared.
“You’d think he’d sense the unworthiness of the people out there,” he noted. Yet he realized he was “a dirty-mouthed preacher. … Wait a minute? No way. But he wasn’t comparing himself with others. The standard was Jesus Christ and again we all fall short. …”
He also “recognized that he was in love with people that were sinful. ”
After being cleansed by God, Isaiah listened to God, observed Jared.
“You know there’s a lot of people who come and listen but they never hear do they? … And that’s a problem. …
“There’s a difference in attending church and worshiping. … To me, I’ll be quite frank, I think attending church can be boring. … And by the way, some of your church members, a lot of them, feel the same way. …
“But when you come to worship … that’s exciting.” People in the Bible often worshiped every day. “They couldn’t get enough of it. …
“You want to know if your people worshiped or not? It’s not when they walk up and say, ‘That was a good sermon pastor, awesome; music was awesome.’ …
“It’s not a matter of just attending church; it’s … seeing that God has a mission and a plan and a purpose for our life,” he declared.
He told of some very difficult times that he and his church endured. Stuart Heights Baptist actually considered whether it was going to close the doors and sell the building to a Lutheran church next door. It was drawing about 30 people every week.
Instead of “a showcase for saints,” churches often need to be “a hospital for the helpless and the hopeless,” though that is often “messy … and complicated,” he described.
As people came to Stuart Heights, he realized that he has “the greatest job in all the world when people are helpless and hopeless and have no where to turn.”
All Christians should assess themselves, suggested Jared. “There’s a lot of people who get stuck you know. I took this job because no one else would do it. … You can serve God and not worship Him, but friend it is impossible to worship God and not serve Him. …
“A lot of people just attend church; but when you worship you say, ‘Here am I, use me.’ ”