Leaving Jesus at the Altar
It’s like the worst nightmare of any groom, right? He’s waiting patiently at the altar for his lovely bride. The music begins. He feels his heart begin to pound, and everyone stands in anticipation of the bride’s entrance. The music plays on. Minutes pass. Nothing happens. And when the tension is palpable and the sweat courses from every pore on the groom’s body, the worst is revealed. … The bride has left the building!
It’s the tragedy of all tragedies for all those involved. The effects last far beyond that moment.
I’ve brought this similar kind of tragedy into my life many times to be honest. For the first several decades of my life, I sort of left Jesus at the altar like every Sunday. I was one better than the runaway bride in that I at least let the ceremony take place. I went through with showing up, and I participated in the service. So really, I was more like a runaway wife. I’d say my ‘yes’ and accept my duties, but then I’d walk out and leave my Jesus behind.
Now, I know that we all sin; it’s in our fallen nature, but ignoring what we’re doing just adds to the sinful nature of the act. My sins were many for sure, but since I work in the field of communication, let’s focus in on some of those communication-related sins that I was partaking in. Gossiping about people and judging others’ decisions were part of my Monday-Saturday (and likely my Sunday afternoons). Back then, I would have described what I was doing as harmless. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?”
And I wouldn’t even admit this right now if it weren’t for where I am right now. Gossiping and judging make us feel like we have it all together. Jesus knew our struggle. In Matthew 7:3 (NIV) He asks, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I had planks, y’all, but I was looking for the specks of dust and using my communication to share what I found.
So many of us live this way. We are sinners, after all, so we succumb to the worldly lies that say such communication is acceptable because it is common. The Apostle Paul knew this struggle for the church too. He wanted Christians to be pure for Christ, but he knew they were weak against temptation and susceptible to deception. And he saw that they were willing to allow sinful ways to exist among them. That’s why he said, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, … you put up with it easily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11: 4 (NIV)
Why are we putting up with communication that is less than respectful or honorable or life-giving? Why are we okay with ugly remarks, sarcastic answers, and snide responses? Leaving the groom at the altar impacts more than just the groom. The same goes for our abandoning Jesus as we move out into the world. Our “sins of communication” as I call them have ripple effects that impact our families, friends, neighbors, and church. Our ability to communicate is just too important to leave it to chance or to the world’s view of okay or even to ourselves. We have to filter our communication through the lens of Jesus. We have to give it our attention and intention and no less than that.
I’ve left Jesus at the altar often. Maybe you have too. Thank goodness He is faithful to pursue us. Just like He overturned the tables in the Temple to drive out all the sinful behavior, He overturned my heart to drive out all that ugly sin. Has he overturned yours?
I’m not going to pretend that I’m “cured.” I was born a sinner. But these days, when my mouth starts saying things that it ought not to, my heart gets convicted. I feel Jesus standing next to me, and I see His hands on His hips and His head tilted just a bit to the side. You know the look.
Jesus has been good to teach me to take Him with me when I leave service on Sundays. He has been faithful to give me Grace when I mess it up, even with Him right there beside me. And He has shown me mercy on so many occasions that my desire now is to do the same for others.
Our communication is a powerful tool to use for good or for evil. We have a responsibility not to take it lightly.
We can all use encouragement as we bring Jesus with us into our daily mess. Join me and other impactors as we share positive impact with everyone who crosses our paths:
Connie Benoit Sirois
Consultant | Writer | SpeakerWe are called to love others as ourselves. Our communication gives us continual opportunities to do this. We should never miss a chance to honor others. I’d love for you to read about my mission.