..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spiritual Examen: Is My Worship Reasonable and Spiritual? Part 1

I plead with you therefore, brethren, by the compassionsof God, to present
all your faculties to Him as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him.
This with you will be an act of reasonable worship. 2 And do not follow the
customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your
minds, so that you may learn by experience what God's will is--that will
which is good and beautiful and perfect.... (Romans 12: 1-3, Weymouth translation)

There is so much that is discussed about "worship" that relates to style and form, that often,
the true heart of worship,or its lack, is not talked about or understood. When we think
of "worship" we often think of what happens during a "worship" service in our particular
church. Some churchs are liturgical, some are charismatic, some are seeker--friendly, other
are hell-fire and brimstone (not so common today). In the charismatic/ pentecostal world it
would appear that not a lot of people have a clear understanding of the nature and purpose of worship.
Somtimes churches differ in their style of worship music but this is not the main issue.
Often, people say things, "Oh, wasn't the worship good this morning at church."  Or,
"I could really feel the presence of God."  But this is not really a biblical understanding
or accurate judge of what is "good" worship. 

The apostle Paul uses the words "λογικην λατρειαν"-- logiken latreain" (reasonable,
spiritual worship). It is whole-bodied and whole minded: rational and reasonable.
Reasonable worship is what is proper to give to God (which by our measure might
be unreasonably extravagant!). It is not just worship words, or felt experience, but
the whole of our life presented to God. What would hold more worth for "worthship":
for someone to say, "I love you" with great sentimentality, or for someone to actually
wholeheartedly walk in agape love every minute of every day ?

There is an aspect to worship that we miss at our own peril and which robs God
of what is due Him: not giving God the discipline of a carefully reasoned
offering of our ENTIRE life. This is not something that you can come to accurately without
a carefully reasoned inventory, ( i.e. a spiritual examen that brings us to the action of extreme
worship.)  I must become a living sacrifice offered to God: a conscious decision to
put every detail of my very  life on the altar, something not possible or reasonable
under the Old Covenant.

When we appeal to only the experiential in worship, without reason and discipline
backed up with a fully-converted life, then we soon will end up being steered by
personal agendas, power plays, human whim, cultural preferences, or doctrines
of demons.

In the article, Conformation or Transformation: Toward Reclaiming Meaningful Distinctives in Evangelical Worship Practice    Linda Schwartz writes,

"The New Testament call to identification in the Cross and to abundant
—not easy—life based on kingdom values, is being silenced by worship
practice which refuses to acknowledge the cost of discipleship. Worship
services approximate forms of entertainment that are designed to elicit
only passive response rather than active engagement from participants.
People have been lulled into checking their brains at the door...

It is disturbing, therefore, that evangelicals place so much stock in the
emotional experience or realm of feelings: this is the one area of human
nature that evangelicalism has traditionally regarded as an appropriate
response mechanism; and, for many, it has become an exclusive outlet,
the single gauge by which the validity of faith is measured. In fact,
‘gut feeling’ or the realm of emotion also internalizes and projects
 erogenous emotions, as well as feelings of misery, aggressiveness, and
 guilt; and these often become confused with appropriate spiritual behaviour.
When human feeling or emotion is compartmentalized from cerebral or
sentient experience, the worshipper is no longer able to engage in a balanced
or fully human response to worship.

Reasonable, spiritual worship is the whole of one's life, working in Godly harmony, and  lived
out of  Kingdom values, offered to God. The apostle Paul then proceeds to give us a spiritual
examen that will help us move toward such worship. We will discuss that tomorrow. :)

No comments: