Category Archives: Worship
Theology makes a difference. It is the infrastructure of our lives. Build it poorly and the building will eventually collapse in ruins. Build it well and you will be prepared for anything. The basic theology for addictions is that the root problem goes deeper than our genetic makeup. Addictions are ultimately a disorder of worship. Will we worship ourselves and our own desires or will we worship the true God? Through this lens, all Scripture comes alive for the addict. No longer are there just a few proof texts about drunkenness. Instead, since all Scripture addresses our fundamental disorder of worship, all Scripture is rich with application for the addict.
What does love look like?
It could look like 50 bags.
50 jars of peanut butter
50 jars of jelly
50 loaves of bread
50 boxes of powered milk
50 boxes of cereal
50 notes to let people know, because of Jesus, that we care.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
If you love me, keep my commands.
I would argue that this ‘attractional mission’, while effective for a few, is actually a case of putting the cart before the horse. Deciding on a form of church and then trying to make it so that people want to come is mission in reverse.
A people’s lives are only as good as their worship. The temple in Jerusalem was the architectural evidence of the importance of God in the life of the people. All the lines of life crisscrossed in the temple. Meaning was established there. Values were created there. Worship defines life. If worship is corrupt, life will be corrupt. For fifty-five years lust and violence in the temple had percolated into the streets and homes and villages of the nation. Josiah began by cleaning up the temple.
My life is committed professionally and personally to the growth and development of the church (both little “c” and big “C”). Because of that, it might seem counter intuitive that I would be passionate about closing the doors one Sunday out of the year. The church where I worship and serve has done this for the last two years and will do it again this year. It is part of our “Go and Be” weekend that we don’t hold regular scheduled worship gatherings as part of the weekend but instead focus on being out in the community serving.
My passion for this stems from both an organizational and educational perspective. It is an organizational challenge to plan, prepare, and mobilize to be closed on Sunday. There are real financial issues of not having a time of offering. What about the people who are new to the community or maybe trying church for the first time and they see that our doors are closed? The issue is that we don’t just want to close the doors but open up service opportunities. Those opportunities remind us that we are the church and the church is at its best when is engaged in the community serving.
From personal, educational, and teaching perspective, some of the best lessons I have experienced come from giving practical application to ideas or principles. The principle that the church is not the building comes alive when we see the doors locked and God’s people still gathering in service. I love explaining to my children why today is different from every other Sunday…much like on Easter, Christmas, Good Friday, or any other special moment in the life of the church.
Closing our doors helps us to create a conversation that is desperately needed in the life of church culture. It is largely symbolic but symbols are important. If you don’t believe that try removing a cross or a steeple or an American flag. Symbols communicate powerfully what is important. For the other 51 weeks in the practice of gathering together, we meet at the same place and for all practical purposes do the same thing. The rest of the world moves along pleased for us to practice what we believe in our places of “worship.” But what happens when those places or worship move into their backyards, their business, their schools, their homes, their hurts. Just maybe we will begin understand on a deeper level what Romans 12: 1-2 means when it says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
When the world’s “all as it should be”
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name