This is the last in the series of guest blog posts. It comes courtesy of Jeff Miller. Jeff is the worship minister at New Hope Baptist Church in Aubrey, TX, and is one of my bloggers. If you check out his blog, Consuming Worship, be sure to read the disclaimer. Funny stuff.
The cool thing about this post is that Jeff and I have never actually met. We’re only connected thru the blogosphere and Facebook. Next time I’m in Texas, I’ll have to figure out where Aubrey is…
Growing up in a VERY legalistic church culture, nearly everything was seen as black or white. Is there black and white? Sure, but a realistic Christ-follower comes to realize that not everything can be placed in such categories. So much of life is amoral. So many things in life should be viewed as tools which can be used with equal facility for good or evil.
One of the problems with legalism is that it always strives to categorize everything, even the spiritual aspects of the Christian life. Prayer becomes something done ONLY with certain postures. Worship becomes the few minutes spent each Sunday singing tried-and-true hymns and gospel songs. Spirituality is contained within a realm with very narrow boundaries and justified by chanting “narrow is the way, narrow is the way.”
This kind of spiritual life is sterile and stale. It only seems healthy to the one living it out, but to the rest of the world it has no appeal. It’s like living in one of those sterile bubbles made to keep out all harm rather than going out to play on the playground, or at the beach, or hike through the woods.
Is living in the bubble more safe? Sure, but it’s not the way life was meant to be lived. As I’ve gotten older, I now see that a full relationship with God is anything but compartmentalized. Walking with Jesus is a crazy, dangerous thing, and hardly ever looks the same two days in a row.
There is greater danger in living the compartmentalized life. This is what happened to the Jews as a result of their striving to live the letter of God’s Law and not the spirit. When God commanded His people to take a Sabbath, they in turn began to add growing rules and regulations that made the Sabbath more onerous than the other six days of the week. What God meant for rest and refocusing became a legalistic endeavor to be more spiritual than everyone else.
Even under the Law, God never meant for the lives of His people to be this way. Now that grace has come, do you think God wants us to wall ourselves off behind a fortress of self-righteousness?
I think not.
This whole idea is somewhat similar to the woman at the well and her attempted misdirection of her conversation with Jesus. Rather than confront her own sin, she went off on the tangent of asking the Lord about the “right” place to worship. It seems to me that Christ’s answer to the woman is our answer as well.
Christ’s whole conversation with the woman was about the heart, and it really seems He could have cared less about the action—the how, when, where, and what. Jesus knows that if the heart is working in “spirit and truth”—the why—all the other stuff will automatically fall into place.
Ultimately, worship is an act of love. When you truly act in love toward someone, does it look compartmentalized? On the contrary, it’s pretty spontaneous and messy. If we are striving to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, can our worship possibly be so sterile?
I think not.
A real, holistic life of worship—one I’m still striving for—has a constant awareness of the presence of God. Prayer becomes something we do at any given moment regardless of posture. Worship is expressed in a life walking in His ways rather than just singing about it. Spirituality now becomes the norm and not the exception.
“You have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have opportunity to wonder, Am I doing this right? or Did I serve enough this week? When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry, or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe.”