“We have seen the enemy and he is us…”

This quote, belonging to the legendary cartoon character Pogo and his owner Walt Kelly, applies equally well to what we have commonly termed “worship wars.” The battles continue to rage on but the boom is now over. People have gotten it out of their system and artists are no longer rushing out to remake the greatest hits or hymns. The fad has passed on and worship remains.

What can we learn from this?

In the midst of retooling every popular worship song of the last twenty years many new gems have emerged. For that we should be thankful. In addition, we have also discovered many new hymn writers in the church today. I believe that they will continue to add to the richness of our historical traditions and infuse beautiful colors into the tapestry of music.

Even with everything we have been through there is still so much left to learn (and unlearn). For example, I still get irritated when I hear comments like the following:

“Our worship is boring.”

“I can’t worship to hymns.”

“We need more worship.”

While I understand the idea behind the statements I’m still concerned that they show such a narrow understanding of worship. I believe that we have muddied the biblical definition of worship by solely linking it to music and church gatherings.

Read and think on the following verses.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

(1 Corinthians 3:16)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17)

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
(Matthew 22:37)

If my reasoning is correct our lives are to be “worship” to God. Our bodies are God’s temple and thus our lives should be a living sacrifice where we die to our own desires as we seek to serve God.

Is this how we look at worship?

Is this how we live our lives?

What about our church gatherings?

What about our music preferences?

In the next post I would like to consider both the positive and negative implications of “worship” as it is commonly understood and suggest a possible alteration.

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I’ve been teaching and working with youth for almost 10 years now and there is a comment that almost never fails to take me by surprise.

What is the comment? It goes something like this…

“I’ll show them respect when they show me respect!”

I’m always taken a little off guard by that comment even though it is one that I’ve been taught since my university days. Back in my early education as a teacher we were taught to earn the respect of our students. We were told that they would respect us if we respected them. This has led to a not-so-subtle influence that has crept in that says if you show me respect then I will reciprocate.

As I consider God’s Word I struggle with this philosophy. Take these following passages as examples.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (Ephesians 6:1, ESV).”

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1, ESV).”

If I consider these words and take them seriously, I see that respect is something I show because of God’s authority in my life and the fact that God has placed other people in authority over me. It doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do with whether or not I “feel” respected.

Don’t get me wrong, being disrespected is certainly wrong and usually does cause a lot of frustration and even anger. In fact, anger is what I’m going to address in my next Pet Peeves post. It does not, however, give any reason to respond back with a lack of respect towards that person in authority.

It may seem a little stern to have an approach like this but I also see it as being biblical. The principles found in Ephesians and Romans are the same principles that I try to instill in my students and in my young daughter.

These are also principles that I need to do a better job of implementing myself.

Is there anyone that you need to show more respect to? Maybe a boss or another person in authority?

Do you need to rethink your position on this and encourage others to show more respect?

Is my thinking even correct on this?

Give me your feedback! Let me know. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Do you have any things that bug you? Little pet peeves maybe? I do! I’ve probably got too many. Some people might even say I’m paranoid.

I can’t help it. There are some things that weird me out!

One of the worst is drinking or eating after people. I can’t stand drinking after someone or having them drink after me. It’s actually sort of funny because I don’t even like drinking after my wife. I know, I know (don’t even go there). It’s even worse when it’s my daughter. Mommy can share her cup or her food but don’t touch daddy’s!

Those that know me really enjoy giving me a hard time about it, especially those in our youth group. One of the worst things I can remember doing, related to this, was a missions event that I did while on a beach project with Campus Crusade. All of the students on this project were divided into various groups and our group had a bowl of rice set in front of us. One bowl full of rice, and we were to eat it with our hands. I finally got hungry enough and ate the rice. Oddly enough, after sharing spit, slobber, and spiritual lessons, I gained a new sense of community that night (and I didn’t get sick).

How do you feel about people eating or drinking after you… spiritually? I realize it’s a bit of a stretch but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. In John 21 Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep. We can only feed people what we ourselves have eaten.

In 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) we are told “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It is our responsibility to be passing on what we have been feeding on. In fact, those people are supposed to be so well fed that they can feed others!

Are you feeding other people? If not, maybe you should consider finding someone that can eat after you. Spend time together sharing with one another what you are eating. Digest the Word together.

What is your diet like? Is it junk food or do you have a healthy balance? Do you eat regularly or when you feel like it?

Take some time to think through these questions and come up with a plan, a menu if you will. Then all you need to do is dig in with both hands (or forks) and enjoy the feast!

Bon appétit…