Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why give up your Sunday morning? [4]

In these posts I have been examining the question, “Why should I give up my Sunday morning to attend church?”
So far I have just been discussing worship – a different experience and more than just about me

Worship is pledging allegiance to God.

God is the great King over all creation. He is sovereign, Lord of lords and King of kings. And we are invited to give him our allegiance.
When we worship God we are re-committing, re-surrendering our lives to him. We are entering the throne room of God and declaring that we are his.

The funny thing about pledging allegiance to a king or nation is that it is not something that you do privately. I have several friends who have recently become Canadian citizens. They go through a public ceremony in order to become a citizen. It is not something that is done behind closed doors with no one watching. In fact all of them are very excited and proud to become citizens of Canada. They invite their friends to this ceremony. They want to it to be as public as possible.
Now I know that becoming a citizen is a one time event and we are talking about a weekly experience. But we need to understand that pledging allegiance is public not private. Within our western world Christianity has become something that is suppose to be private. Something that we are suppose to do in our homes and not really bring into the public areas. But the very nature of worship demands that it have a public aspect to it. Please note I am not denying that we need to worship in private. It is just that an aspect of worship is pledging allegiance to God and that has public dimensions.

Another aspect of pledging allegiance to God is that we are also saying that we will not live for the things of this world. We commit ourselves to be under the rule of God, not under the rule of the world. We dedicate ourselves to pursuing God and his Kingdom, not the goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations of this world. I do not have the time/space to even begin to unpack how this might look in action. Let me just say the direction of our lives will (should) be different than those who don’t follow Jesus. The problem is that we are bombarded, enticed, invited to surrender ourselves to the world and its agenda daily.
For myself I find that I need to constantly and regularly re-commit myself to God and his Kingdom. I have to regularly declare to allegiance to God, otherwise I begin to drift and fall under the rule of the world instead of God.

For these reasons I need to publicly worship weekly.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why give up your Sunday morning? [3]

I have been exploring the question:
“Why should I give up my Sunday morning to attend church?”

Worship is one answer.

It is a different experience worshiping with others as opposed to worshiping alone, as we saw in a previous post.

Continuing to explore worship:
Worship is about more than just me and Jesus.

We live in a very individualistic society. The ultimate goal is individual autonomy. “In modernity individuals insist on the right, individually and at any time, to do whatever they want or to do the same things as others are doing.” (Hiebert 168) So we talk about self-fulfillment, self-help…
Now I am not about rant about how this is a terrible thing (there are positive and negative aspects of this). All I ask is that we realize that this focus of our society shapes our theology.
One way it shapes our theology is that we believe that the goal of church is to help me personally, individually worship God. We come to the Sunday morning expecting to get some assistance in living out our own individual Christian life. We are there to worship God as an individual not as a community. So worship leaders invite us to close our eyes and imagine that we are alone with Jesus. Some don’t want to greet and shake people’s hands at the start of the service. Not because they are rude or anti-social, it is just that they have come as an individual to worship God.
This is not all wrong, please hear me say that.

But the goal of Sunday morning is not simply to equip us to live out our own individual Christianity, in other words to be able to worship alone. Worship is about more than just me and Jesus.

God desires for a community to worship him. Yes, he wants individuals to worship him. But the overarching thrust of the Bible is the formation of a community that worships him.

In the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to come together a few times a year and worship as community. Notice the command is not just stay at home and worship (though that was also important) it is to worship as a community. In the New Testament almost all of Paul’s writings (those are the books from Romans to Philemon) one of the major thrusts is Jews and Gentiles worshipping together. This is vital to Paul. It is not that they worship alone but that they worship together.

True worship draws a community together. If our worship does not draw and form a community of faith we need to ask are we really worshipping the God of the Bible?
Sunday morning accomplishes God’s will by simply worshipping as a community.