05 May 2010

self-defined parameters

I recently had a conversation with a woman who explained to me that her family has made the decision to "worship God in their own way" by staying home on Sunday mornings and making it a family-day where they relax and enjoy.

The details of this story haven't been changed or altered since it is such a common culturally-based statement that it really could refer to just about anyone. The notion is often repeated by many who would rather just keep on doing what they are doing and feel good about it. It is not-too-cleverly veiled in this gushy sentiment of worshipping God, seeking some sort of higher validation for their choices. Of course, the problems with this line of thought abound . . . as I did begin to gently point out over the course of our ensuing conversation.

Perhaps what concerns me most about this phrase is that those who hold to it will probably never fully understand the weight of their words. Here's how I mean that:

1. Worship is something which, by definition, is the giving of ourselves in an act of sacrifice to another entity. We worship by leaving the confines of ourselves and ascribing to something which is other. It is difficult to fault someone for missing this point in our culture, however, since much of our church life is built around flimsy ideas such as 'meeting-our-needs' and 'styles-which-I-like' instead of life-changing encounters. Still, the notion that we are worshipping God by creating pleasant experiences for ourselves (i.e., making a comfortable life for our own enjoyment) is clearly missing the point.

2. Worship cannot be built on the idea that God needs us. This is true not only of corporate Sunday gatherings, but also Monday-through-Saturday lifestyles. It is not that God needs our time, talents and abilities . . . It is that we need God in every conceivable way. Far too often - both among churchgoers and nonchurchgoers - we think that God is going to be satisfied with whatever we decide to throw his way, and then we can move on with things. After all, what does he expect, right? Sadly, we've written off the story about Cain and Abel's offerings as childish and have followed their path to spiritual demise.

3. Worship either acknowledges a Sovereign Creator or it doesn't. This is simply stated, but often missed in ridiculous complexities of our fallen nature. To say, "We worship God in our own way" implies that there is a recognition of a higher authority, but at the same time denies that authority's right to supremacy. The question then becomes, Why do you admit the presence of a god and identify his need to be worshipped only to ignore the parameters he has given us for living?

4. Worship does not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He is God and we are not, thus he gives us direction and we are not in a position to overwrite the desires of the Almighty. If we were, then he would not be almighty, nor would he be sovereign.

Simply stated, we are more concerned with our self-definied parameters of worshipping God than following his law. We would rather heap blessings upon ourselves through our own comfortability than fulfill the desires of our Creator's heart. And this is unacceptable Christianity, hypocritical Theism and ridiculous spirituality. (In actuality, it has much more in common with New Age spirituality than it does with the gospel.)

God forgive each of us when we decide that we will worship him "in our own way" rather than following the path of Jesus, who endured suffering, shame and scorn that we might attain life.

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