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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Place of Worship

I like to keep things simple. The simpler the better, especially these days when for me just getting up and ready for work takes monumental effort.

My brain seems to be needing a vacation lately. I start to get ideas, and try to write them down so they make sense, but it doesn't always work out somehow. But I will give it a try......

Has anyone heard of "Red Mountain Music"? They take old hymns and set them to modern arrangements. Kind of a bit country/twangy/bluegrass, but the result is terrific, imho. I had two of their cd's, but I think they are out on loan right now. Thankfully, I made a tape so I could listen to them in my car (just a tape deck there). OK, here is the link if you want to have a listen:

http://www.redmountainchurch.org/rmm/alb/gadsby.html#clips



One of the songs is called "Jesus Whispers". A line that really grabbed my attention is "When we live on Jesus' merit, then we worship God a'right." I really like that. It makes it simple. Living on Jesus' merit, in His righteousness and not our own. That gives the proper foundation for true worship.

There is so much written about "worship"; what it means, how to do it. Jesus said that the day was coming, and was now here, that we would not worship God in any particular place, but instead we would worship Him in spirit and in truth, "for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers." (John 4:23) That seems pretty simple to me. I think it means that we are not to worship in certain places, like temples and such, but that our worship should go beyond buildings and ceremonies and services.

I'm still trying to nail down the "spirit and truth" part. But my inclination is to translate that to mean our worship can now go beyond rituals and encompass our entire life. Being born again, we have a new, made-alive spirit. One that was once dead in trespasses and sins. Being in Christ, being in union with Him, brings us into a real, living relationship with the one true God.

Following Christ is not like any other "religion". We worship a true and living God. We don't just "go through the motions" of worship, the way worshippers of other "gods" do. Their worship is dead. Useless. Pointless. Our worship, our giving God His worth in our thoughts, words, and deeds, is living. It's real. It comes from changed hearts and changed lives.

Our "place of worship" is at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. From there, we look to Him, and see the gospel of grace. We see ourselves as having no righteousness of our own, but see Him as having all righteousness. We acknowledge our need of Him, and realize God's love and grace as given through Him. Our worship is from a grateful heart, a humbled heart, a heart that loves because we are loved. How different from worshipping dead idols out of fear, and forever trying to appease them with works and sacrifices. How different from going to temples day after day, bowing down before graven images, and going through countless rituals born of ignorance and superstition. Man made rituals meant to somehow give a righteousness that we can never have.

I want my whole life to be one of worship. Yes, it is a true blessing to be with brothers and sisters, praying and singing and praising God together. But to be honest, I don't miss that part of "church" very much. I look back at it now, and see myself as taking part in what I believed to be real worship. And I know the potential was there for that to happen. Yet so many times I was simply going through the motions. I was so very much aware of how I looked, how I acted, how I sang. I was very much aware of how others looked, acted, and sang. I had expectations of those meetings, and of myself and others as we gathered for them. I think a lot of them were wrong expectations.

Because so much emphasis was placed on being there, I came to view those times as the pinnacle of my Christian experience. Being in that building, during those times, should have brought me closer to God. It was "God's house", after all. It was "the Lord's Day" as well. I was doing what every other obedient, sincere Christ follower was doing. I was in His house on His day, to "worship" Him. I owed Him at least that much. How selfish it would have been to stay in bed, and forgo that assembling together. How guilty I felt if I missed a meeting. How I admonished myself if my thoughts wandered, or I judged my heart to be "cold" during the meeting.

I learned a lot there. I loved the words of the hymns and choruses. I think I sometimes "felt" God's presence. But many times I felt the way I used to feel after going to Mass in the Catholic church. Like I had done my duty. I had done at least the bare minimum that a "good" Christian should do. I showed up for meeting. And by doing that, I reassured others that I was doing alright spiritually. Because if you started to miss meetings, then that must certainly mean you weren't doing well in your walk with the Lord. Never mind what you might be up to the rest of the week, even if you went to church on Sundays.

When I think about it all now, it seems to me that we are still clinging to old ways in our worship. We have kept the buildings, rituals, the traditions. We have narrowed it all down to a certain time slot. It is so unlike what the early Christians did. Their lives were connected to each other, and to Christ, in faith, in spirit and in truth. They didn't need all the fuss and muss. They didn't depend on pastors or programs, pianos or pews. They lived their life in Christ every day of the week, and saw Him in each other. It was pretty simple, I think. That's what I want.

(Hope this makes some sense)

23 comments:

RJW said...

Worship: My response to His initiation. The life I live, He lives through me. Worship is the simple overflow of His love, Life, and Spirit in me back toward Him. The time and place and style are irrelevant. My Life is an act of worship because He adores and loves me first! Because of His awesome, unconditional love, I can say, "With all that I am I thee worship."

Amy said...

Maureen,
This makes perfect sense to me. I believe that "Worship" is not just singing. Worship is done in so many different expressions, and many of them I will continue to learn and progressively have the eyes of my heart opened to realizing. Worship is a lifestyle. We worship and adore Father Son Holy Spirit, I think, in how we live our life, by abiding in Him, praising Him by loving Him, loving others, obedience, listening. Worship, of course, can definitely be singing (as I love to sing) yet other forms like art, gardening, walking or loving on a pet, doing a skill or using a gift Father has given us...just some of my own thoughts there.

Great post, Maureen!

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Ruth said...

Maureen,
Love the look of your blog !
Ahh I so love what RJW said here.
He is living His life through us and part of that expression is worship within us. I believe we were made to worship with our whole being, body soul spirit. just like was said here again: With all that I am I worship thee.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Ike said...

Maureen,
Don't you think that when we start to grasp and realize the greatness of His mercy and grace, that we begin to long for genuine worship? It's like a divinely given discontent with worship that is not worship. Superficial song services, preaching services, and fellowship services which fail to finally get around to worship will leave the soul longing for worship that worships???? Our soul will crave and demand worship that is God-centered, that is filled with high praise and lowly confession, and characterized by a spirit of reverence and awe for the almighty Trinity.

Maureen said...

Thank you all for your comments. Worship is central to our lives as Christians. We are all born with the instinct to worship something or someone; thank God He has revealed Himself to us as the only One worthy of that worship. I thank Him too that He accepts our worship, as feeble as it is, as presented to Him through our Great High Priest.

Leonard said...

Maureen, Great post thanks.

Tip, whatcha do is (highlight), run your cursor over the text that you want to short cut to a link then go up to the tool bar and click the thing that looks kinda like a piece of chain link, then paste your link in box provided.

Like the new look here.
Best
Leonard

Anonymous said...

"I'm still trying to nail down the "spirit and truth" part. But my inclination is to translate that to mean our worship can now go beyond rituals and encompass our entire life. Being born again, we have a new, made-alive spirit. One that was once dead in trespasses and sins. Being in Christ, being in union with Him, brings us into a real, living relationship with the one true God."

For whatever reason I have been rolling this quote you made around in my mind (rolling anything in my mind is dangerous). Anyway.....you actually did nail it. The word "spirit" does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. Jesus' point is that a person must worship not simply by external conformity to religious rituals and places (outward) but inwardly ("in spirit") with the proper heart attitude. The reference to "truth" refers to worship of God consistent with the revealed Scripture and centered on the "Word made flesh" who ultimately revealed His Father.
I see this happening all over the christian "blogging world" and it is wonderful! I also see "some" who seem to down play the written Word and try to seperate Christ from His Word. This is not only impossible but extremely dangerous.

Leonard said...
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Maureen said...
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Leonard said...
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Anonymous said...
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Leonard said...
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RJW said...
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Keystone said...
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RJW said...
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Leonard said...

Mack, thanks again for the Swiss steak recipe, figure on trying it out Monday, Ill let you know how it turns out.
Best
me

Maureen said...
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Keystone said...
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Maureen said...

Keystone, what you said here:

"When folks view the same Christ differently, they are stating their experience to date with the Master. A comment is a stated picture in time, of an ongoing growth relationship.

For anyone to say the "picture" in comment is wrong, means that Christ is not large enough to incorporate any view, but yours. I suspect HE laughs at that notion."

When I was reading over all the comments again, this stood out to me. I saw myself as one who has sometimes had the pomposity (if that is a word) to try and dictate someone else's understanding of, and perhaps even their experience of, the Lord Jesus.

I feel I am "in recovery" to some degree, from an attitude that wants to do just that. Your comment here spoke volumes to me. Though I will never say that Christ can be experienced as someone other than Who He is portrayed as in Scripture, I have to allow that He will take the written word and apply it to our hearts and minds in an intimate, purely personal way, as we experience Him inwardly, and outwardly as He works in our lives. This He will do in ways unique to each of us, making Himself known in ways that others will not understand or relate to.

Thanks so much for sharing your heart.
PS, my email is on my profile.

Keystone said...
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Maureen said...
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Ike said...

The contrast between the two realms of "flesh" and "Spirit" inderlies our Lord's words to the Samaritan woman in John 4:"Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father....God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Usually we take these words to mean that people can worship God anywhere-either in this mountain or in Jerusalem. This is certainly true. But Jesus does not say "either...or"; He says "neither...nor"! In other words, God cannot be worshiped in this realm at all; He is accessible only "in the Spirit." "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh." For through Him [Christ] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Christians are "in the Spirit." They are able to "see Him who is invisible" and to "look...at the things which are not seen"!

Maureen said...

Thank you Ike. Beautifully and succinctly put!