Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Part 2

Argument Starter: Are we authentic worshipers?
I'm talking about We, the collective believers, when we're all together. Are we authentic? Are we really worshiping God? How would we know if we were? If we're not worshiping would we be willing to change what we're doing into worship?

As Ed or Gretchen pointed out in a previous comment, worship is an attitude toward God.  So maybe we should ask if we're worshiping when we're not together. If we're not worshiping when we're alone, we probably aren't worshiping when we're together.

My answer is: No. We’re not authentic.  We, as a people, would rather sit in front of a TV for hours and hours of our lives instead of serving God by serving his church and loving the lost.  Or we would rather produce things of no eternal value like photos, crafts, doodads, competitions than produce worship. Or we'd rather consume our lives with technology and computers and books, so that we don't look for wisdom in the Giver of all knowledge.  No, we are not authentic worshipers in our alone lives or we would not so waste our time.  

What we are is sinners, saved by grace. And I do not say that lightly. So I'll say it again. I am a sinning kind of person saved by the unmerited favor of God. Like, seriously. 

I have done nothing to deserve the goodness in my life or in the eternity that is to follow.  God has done everything to bring me close to Him. When I have failed Him, He has never failed me. When I have walked away from belief, from worship, from making right choices, He has never moved.   That is why I worship. Because I know, personally, this God who has performed miracles on my behalf, who comforts me when I cry, who reveals Himself to me when I seek Him. This is my God!

Now, I'm sitting here at my keyboard on the 3rd floor of my house (which was sweltering until I turned on our window A/C) and I'm worshiping God. Because I'm grateful and full of emotion about who He is. No one else is here. Besides Claire who keeps interrupting this writing with questions about adjectives. (more on kids & worship tomorrow) But perhaps, in a few minutes, I will tire of being consistently interrupted. I'll snap at my daughter with a pointed remark like, "Can't you see I'm doing something here?!" and about that time my worship will come to a screeching halt. I'll return focus to myself, my agenda, my blog, my blog readers, and the rest of me, myself and I.  God will not have moved.  I may.

And somewhere along about dinner time, I'm gonna remember God again.  I'm going to remember He's in control of my life, my breath, my food and I'm going to join hands with my family and we'll talk to God together. Worship him around a table while we eat. Or perhaps by that time, I may have burnt my hamburgers and the kids haven't picked up the yard from afternoon playing and I might be in a real crappy mood. In which case, not much worship is going to happen as we join hands and pray. See, I believe I can totally pray, sing, dance, raise hands or bow down without worshiping. You might not be able to tell the difference, because it might look the same on the outside depending on how much effort I feel like putting into faking it. But God can tell.

And how can we encourage each other to worship authentically alone and together unless we're willing to tell the difference?
Okay, and one more totally random pet peeve about worshiping together. WHY do we sing about a bended knee, or bowing down when NO ONE IS ON THEIR KNEES! What is that?!


Edward and Gretchen said...

So just to keep it real once again

To answer your last question, I've heard it said that Christians don't tell lies...they sing them. With somewhere around 80 percent of evangelical youth leaving their faith during their college years you would think that maybe our church culture would look a little closer at their methodology. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead we seem to keep cranking out clone churches that look and act more or less like the one down the street. We fill them with lots and lots on busy programs, have lots of meetings about the many programs, have extra early "prayer" breakfasts, mens groups, moms groups, kids groups, golf groups, sunday school groups, groups to organize the sunday schools groups, Jr. high mid week groups, sr. high groups, cat groups, and dog groups. Just kidding, I made up the last two. The moment we walk in the door everyone breaks into their age category and goes their own direction (kinda like a public school) as to not taint each other with non age related concepts. Then we get to go hear the rock star “relevant” “worship” service. Then we slip in a sermonette, “Bible not included” motivational pep talk and conclude by reuniting again as a family. I think we fake it far more than we make it often times, or at least that is what the statistics say since divorce, pornography, unwed pregnancy and bankruptcy rates all mirror their secular counterparts.

So we look, act, and think just like the world and then wonder why the heck our kids leave the church in droves. I think its because they see through our faking it, then watch and learn by our actions that the world is real and the church is fake. Seriously, we talk about the creation days as being lonnnggggg days, so we can leave a door open and tip our had to the evolutionist. We make Noah’s Ark look like a big row boat full of a bunch of cute barnyard animals and wonder why they think that the Bible is just stories and evolutionary “science” is dependable. Our 1.7 children families may make for an easy going carefree lifestyle, but doesn’t deliver faith filled world changers who we so desperately need in government, courts, businesses, hospitals, and pulpits. Just think, the modern church family has just over one child more than a homosexual couple.

What about churching planting? I think more of the same we can do without.

So going back to the first post, I think we (as a contemporary church culture) are really more concerned about how comfortable and entertaining “worship” is, rather than if our hearts are seeking God. Worship is giving our mind, will, and emotions to God, not music. We can express worship to God through music, but that is only a small facet of worship. We give our minds to Him in worship by reading His word and studying it daily. We ask questions and seek the answers through more study and prayer, so that our actions may be in accord with Him. How could we possibly presume to know a God who we throw a few monuments to here and there? (I’m speaking to myself here, but maybe somebody else can relate too.) If I say I love someone I know little about, don’t spend time with and don’t communicate with I’m as much as a liar as the hypocrite that sings during worship about being on bended knee while proudly resisting as they stand staunch and upright.

Edward and Gretchen said...

As far as our salvation, I absolutely agree that is an amazing grace gift. One night recently Jacob called me in after I had tucked him in. He said, “Dad, I have been reading and look here, it says, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind soul and strength, and you shall have no God’s before me’...I don’t feel like I always do that and sometimes I put things before God. And see here, ‘Honor your father and mother’, well you know I have a hard time with that one. ‘Don’t lie’, well I’m pretty good there.” I said, “Look up Romans 3:23. ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. Does what you just read prove to you that your an “all” and have sinned, yes. Now ready Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. OK so what have you earned? Death. Now John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. Do you trust and believe in Him?” Yes, but why does he do that for us Dad. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found was blind, but now I see. It is amazing grace and even though we reject him daily, our salvation is already complete. The more we yield our hearts to Him and stop faking it, the more we honor Him with true and undefiled worship.


Kelly said...

Go ahead Ed!!! Preach it! That was good stuff right there.
I think it so easy to become law based when we start talking about what we should and should not do as Christians. It's like we need everyone to follow the same set of rules that WE put out there not God. God is alive and speaking. He may tell you one day to sell everything and live a life like Mother Teressa or he may tell you to go ahead and buy that Huge house that "good Christians" think is way too extravagant. Depending on your own personality and upbringing you may think one is more God like than the other but in reality both are doing the will of God for their life. We need to stop judging and comparing and start hearing what God is saying.
About worship in church, we tend to be like sheep and do what the other sheep are doing. We also pick our church on our personality. If you are outspoken, free, and lively you most likely go to a church that worships that way. If you are more quiet and reserved I'm sure you feel more at home at a church that is like you. And lets be honest, you only spend an hour and 1/2 there all week. I don't believe that's the worship God is talking about. I agree with the life of worship comment. Who cares what you do for 35 minuets of "church worship."

Edward and Gretchen said...

After reviewing my above reply I felt very convicted and felt I needed to apologize. I used words from a hymn. I'm sorry I did it and it can't be taken back. I realize to the “relevant worship” Christian that the use of a hymn doesn't make sense, thus I was not being politically correct and sensitive. Maybe someone could suggest a chorus that I could substitute it with so it would appeal to more people.


Jody said...

Ed Dear,
While I loved all your EXTENSIVE thoughts and they are EXTENSIVE and thought provoking...I'm still stuck on the corporate worship gig. What we do when we're together, how we do it and why we do it. I'm totally reverberating with your idea that corporate worship has become more about our comfort and entertainment. Let's change that. How do we do it?

I don't think you're suggesting that older songs will help us change, but that's kind of what it sounds like. I love the richness in the words of some hymns and some hymns are torturous to get through. The same is true about modern songs. Some are brilliantly lyriced (is that a word?) and others border on making no sense at all. (Have you heard that song "Fireflies"? I still haven't figured out what the point of that is! While some may say it's a secular song, I'm kind of bridging the gap between secular and sacred in my own life)

Anyhow, I love all the thought you put into your comment and am wondering with you when we decided kids can't worship with us. That's my whole post for today. And while I could copy and paste a couple paragraphs from you, I'm gonna try to do it alone. :) I'll ask if I need a reference though.

Kelly, I'm totally digging that God made us each uniquely, speaks to us and gives individual instruction for life. But I've known a whole lot of reserved people in super charistmatic churches and I know a whole lot of really fun, loud people who sit quietly and reserved inside church buildings.

I'm also not feeling ya on the "who cares" what we do when believers come together. I think God has told us ways that he specifically wants us to worship him and I don't think we're doing a very good job at those. Thus, the reason for starting all these arguments.

For both of my favorite arguers, I'm not arguing for the sake of arguing. I, like both of you, think things need to change. And while I'd like to stay far far far from legalism, I think accountability is CRUCIAL in the body of believers. If we aren't each doing our parts (ie worshiping Him in our unique giftings)then we're ignoring one of the most basic commands.

So help me with the practical application of your ideologies. While it may seem elementary to you, some of us don't know how to worship in the ways you're trying to describe. And how to turn the knowledge of the grace into worship.

Ginger said...

I wholeheartedly agree that if we can't worship alone, then we can't worship together. We go to a tiny church. When we aren't there, it is itty bitty! As such, the worship is definitely not entertaining. It's awkward most of the time. And we have learned that worship is about God, it's not about us. Imagine!! When we start saying we like the preaching at a certain church, but not the praise & worship, we're really saying: The songs aren't my style. It wasn't entertaining. I wish it were more upbeat, contemporary, slow, etc.
We should be able to worship God sincerely with a handful of people singing a capella. You don't actually need a band or even a guitar to worship God. (Now, I'm only referring to Sunday morning worship.)
I can worship God by getting a glass of water for my hubby. I can worship God by picking up after my children w/o complaining (aloud or in my head). I can worship God by patiently teaching my child to read or by nursing my baby in the middle of the night. Worship is just an outpouring of our thankfulness to God for the grace and mercy He gives that we so do not deserve.

Jody said...

Ginger, I love your examples of a life the worships God in moments. How do you stay there?

I wouldn't think God is displeased with awkward corporate worship, but if you had talented or skilled musicians would He be any less pleased if they applied themselves to bring music? Is there Biblical merit in becoming skilled at something (leadership, instrument, expression,singing) because the Bible uses examples like that or are we simply to worship with what we've got because we've got it?

Have we lost interest in what the Bible actually says about how, when, and why to worship God publically, vocally, and with a bunch of other people? That is a big concern in my mind.