Sunday, March 22, 2015

Be Careful WHAT You Worship

Today I went to church. Being a Sunday (the day I'm writing this blog), I'm sure that comes as no surprise to a lot of my readers. But if you have been reading for a while, you know that I've been on a sabbatical for the last several months. I had a lady ask me this morning what church I've been going to, since I haven't been around, and I told her "None. I'm on a sabbatical." That, of course produced a puzzled look, but that's expected. More on the sabbatical later.

I got to the church early. As I was walking from my Jeep to the building, I could hear the music team rehearsing. I found a seat in front, stage right (as a former theater person, "stage right" is the right side of the stage, from the perspective of the actors ON the stage looking out at the audience. Since the stage directions are normally for those ON the stage, this makes sense.). I wanted to be there early enough to be there for the rehearsal. I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to actually join the team; I just wanted to be there and "absorb" as much of the praise and worship as possible.

Outside of a few interruptions of people stopping to say hello and ask where I've been - both during the rehearsal and during the actual music portion of the service - I was able to focus on praising and worshipping God.

For the non-Christian, the terms "praise" and "worship" may be a bit confusing. Simplified, "praise" is the jump/shout/dance/run-about portion of the music. It is usually the part where you are expressing your joy of the one you are praising. "Worship", on the other hand, is usually quieter, more tender, and is an expression of adoration. There are times during worship when one may experience an almost tangible feeling of "presence". Usually, it takes "praise" to shed the stresses of the week, and allow one to open oneself to the possibility of getting close to God.

After the music portion, the minister welcomes newcomers, and then there is a period of fellowship, which I like to call the "meet and greet". This is where everybody goes around hugging and shaking hands. I took this as a good time to make my exit.

The sabbatical started initially as my taking a break from "intellectual Christianity". The church I've belonged to for many years refers to itself as a "Family Church, Charismatic Teaching Center, and a World Outreach". I wanted to make my next sentence "There is a heavy emphasis on the 'Teaching Center'," but that would be in error. The church does do a pretty good job of balancing the three, it's just that the sermons, by default, tend to fall heavy into the teaching portion. And that's where I've had to step away, for the health of my Christianity.

I said "started initially" above. What has happened during these few months is that it has become more defined as an intellectual/spiritual crossroads with what I call "bible worship". This is the practice of holding up the bible as something of EQUAL standing with God. I say this because I did exactly that. When I became a Christian, all those years ago, I not only read the bible, I carried around (and used) a Strong's Concordance (a dictionary containing every word in the bible, its English/Hebrew or Greek definition, and every location in the bible it is used). This sucker is bigger than the New York City Yellow Pages (ask your parents). I followed the Finis Dake philosophy of bible reading: "Take the Bible literally wherein it is at all possible; if symbolic, figurative or typical language is used, then look for the literal truth it intends to convey." (Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, Preface, © Copyright 1963 by Finis Jennings Dake)

And I wasn't alone. Most of the Christians I hung around with followed this same "adoration" of the bible. Since it was considered "The Word of God", it was equal to God.

As I've stated in a previous blog, I have come to believe that the bible CONTAINS the Word of God, but is NOT in and of itself THE Word of God. And I don't think I'm alone. Even St. John (the writer of the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John) stated "I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face." (3 John 13). If John, who was called "the one Jesus loved" in the Gospel of John, and the only one of the twelve at the cross (who got protective guardianship of Jesus' mother) didn't think it valuable enough to WRITE down what he wanted to say (scriptures that are considered holy and inerrant), does it not reason that the bible is not the complete "Word of God"? I mean, weren't those things he did NOT write have equal value to what he DID write?

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." (Gospel of John 21:25)

Be careful of what you worship.

© Emittravel 2015

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