Monday, August 20, 2007

Idle Worship

I don't know if you're aware of it, but there is a phenomenon sweeping the world of Christiandom. It can be called many things, but I'll call it "seeking the whoopee!" The members of this movement are not always easy to identify at first. They arrive at a church as a newcomer, usually. Sometimes as a "mature Christian just looking for a place to worship". (Their words, not mine!) Sometimes they settle in slowly, and just blend in with everyone else. Sometimes they immediately want to sing/teach/lead. (I've found this to be the case more often than not.) Usually they want to be really chummy with the pastor/priest or anyone else they deem to be in leadership or positions of importance in the particular worshipping community. They may even become regular "givers". (Most don't like the word "tithe".)

But then it begins. If they don't gain quick access to a "position" of some type, they grumble: I was
always asked to sing/teach/lead at my old church! If the pastor/priest/deacon/other leader-type person doesn't pay them special attention, they are being "ignored". If there is something in a sermon/homily that doesn't stroke their ego or support their own private theological positions, then they begin speaking against whoever preached/taught. They become disgruntled if the music isn't as lively as they want it (or as slow and worshipful, or whatever!).

But the final word before they make their grand exit is usually something like this: "I just don't
feel the moving of the Holy Spirit here," or "God's presence just isn't that real to me here." Usually followed by an accusation against the pastor/priest/deacon/leader-type person...and then they're gone. Off to another place to see if they can find some more "super spiritual" folks just like themselves!

If you think I'm exaggerating, remember that my husband was a pastor for awhile. I am actually playing it down a bit!

The main issue is that too many church-goers see the whole Christian experience in a very me-centered (well, not
ME...them...) way. You know what I mean. It's all about their feelings, their spirituality, and what they can get out of a service. If it isn't giving them chills, tingles, or filling them with the urge to have a "whoopee!" experience, then it just cannot be of God.

The problem with this attitude is that it is all focused on man! For some reason, I don't think that's how it was meant to be. Do you?

Anyone who wants to sit in a pew or chair (or even on the floor!) and just receive is just dead wrong!

It may sound really simplistic, but the words to the song are true: It really is all about Jesus! It really is all about His death and resurrection. It really is all about Him receiving praise and glory and honor as we gather, read His word, and receive of His body and blood. It really is about serving the poor in His name. It really is about showing the world we are Christians by our love. Because the One to whom we give our worship gave the example of being a servant as the way to show the world His love in us.

It's time to settle in and do the work, my friends, as we follow the One whose name we take when we call ourselves "Christian".

I know this is pretty heavy for a Monday. I look forward to your thoughts on this, too.

"We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.
The greatness of mercy and love at the feet of Jesus.
And we cry, 'Holy, holy, holy'
We cry 'holy, holy, holy'
We cry 'holy, holy, holy is the Lamb' "

*Words and music by Chris Tomlin copyright 1998

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