NOTE: I am writing this piece on Thursday morning because pursuant to the commends of She Who Must Be Obeyed, by the time this posts I will be in a nearby state visiting her sister. Consequently, I will not have seen many of your comments and I hope you don’t think I’m ignoring any points that have been made.
Last time I ended with 2 questions for the group, and unlike our previous sessions, I’d like to answer them too. They were:
- Why is it called, in Protestant circles anyway, a worship “service”?
- Is it possible for our group to come together to worship as one Body despite our different opinions, likes and dislikes?
As for the first one, our Sunday worship is called a “service” because when we are in community with other Christians, service is our worship. That is both service to God and service to each other, and it takes a great many forms from giving God the praise He is due, to serving the needs of those who are hurting. Service is worship, service is love in action, and love in action is worship− this is what it means to live as Jesus lived. We don’t do this because we are compelled to do so; it isn’t The Law. Rather, it is our natural response to His love and to His amazing grace by which we have received everything in Christ.
Since this service is the result of our love for both God and those around us, it is selfless and humble in its nature, it does not keep a scorecard, and we desire nothing in return. Thus, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God.
Now for my answer to the second question: Can we worship together as One in spite of our diversity? Of course we can! You see, if we can take care of question 1, question 2 will take care of itself.
The only problem is that most Christians never get through the first question. Sadly, most of our leaders haven’t either, so we aren’t led to do so. It seems so daunting, so we say this can’t happen until Jesus returns, but in doing so we must ignore the fact that New Testament teaching on this whole subject is usually found to be in the present tense imperative, thus it is something we should be working at in the here and now.
Over two years ago, I wrote some posts about nakedness as a metaphor in Scripture. The real idea was that we need to be naked before God. No, this isn’t really about a wild new dress code, it’s about baring our souls before God. When we talk about baring our souls before God it tends to sound sort of academic or abstract, but when we compare it to baring our bodies well, it gets real for most people in a hurry; thus, the metaphor. Starting next week, I’m going to revisit that study making improvements and corrections where needed, not to mention some additions that have come to mind since then.
The reason for this, is that it explains how we get from a typical point of beginning to the place where we can truly offer ourselves as living sacrifices, pleasing to God as our perfect and true worship (service) to God. You will recognize that it has many of the elements we covered in our recent study of spiritual practices, only in a metaphorical setting that gets us to where the rubber meets the road.
I hope to see you then!