Encounter: Take some time in a quiet place to listen to or read through the Old Testament passage, Daniel 3:1-30 and the New Testament passage of Acts 7:1-59. Read through again underlining words or phrases that speak to you about worship. Do you recognize false dangers and true dangers that can form our understanding of true worship?
Recently a friend came to me and shared that a family member had sold their business after becoming mesmerized by a certain social media outlet. This site was known for their ability to grab the attention of intelligent, good and reasonable people over time by causing them to make decisions based on fear and focusing on concerns that resonates with their sense of justice. The problem is none of it is true.
In talking about the rise of fake news, Christianity Today posted, Fake News has become a hot topic lately…. They want to disrupt and undermine those they disagree with, so they post fake stories to bait people into passing it along.
The church is one of their targets. And Christians keep taking the bait.
So. Many. Times.
Of course, some of it sounds close to the truth, but only time reveals it was full of false dangers while the real dangers of financial distress, family conflict and isolation was still not enough to convince them of the truth. They had too much invested. It felt safe and like they were in control.
In The Dangerous Act of Worship, Labberton writes, We need true worship to clarify true danger. We need to meet God in order to know what’s worth fearing and what’s not. When our experience of worship is committed to keeping things under our control, is relevant to us, meets our expectations and performance reviews, comfortable and familiar for us, it can allow us to fear, even bow down before the wrong dangers. So, the dangers of our lives are not being rewritten by the reality of God, as worship is meant to do. Rather safe worship allow us to continue holding on to fear of the loss of lesser things like personal status, satisfaction, power or happiness…how can we learn to love God and seek justice in a dangerous world in the name of Christ, if in our worship we have only experienced a domesticated God?
Like fake news, these underlying false dangers have the power to shape worship for ourselves and in turn we miss God and lose track of our neighbor.
We give ourselves over to the wrong dangers and miss the real ones and the danger of failing to meet God’s expectations becomes secondary.
Since the beginning, human beings have always wanted worship to be under our control. The question we have to ask ourselves is are we seeking to worship God or to manage him for our own purposes and preferences.
This Sunday we will look at the false dangers that can sidetrack true worship and absorb so much energy and time that it leaves us passion-less for the ministries that take us to where the needs are the greatest. We will see when we worship in spirit and in truth we become so infused with joy, love and hope that we give off a life-giving fragrance that brings beauty wherever we go. See you Sunday!
Worshipping with you,
Reflect: What false dangers are revealed in the two passages above? What experience have you had of fearing something that turned out to be false or of no real danger? How can being absorbed by fearing the wrong dangers affect our spiritual growth and fulfilling God’s purpose in the world?
Encourage: Reordering our worship lives and unmasking false dangers is central for our faith to mature. It is truly a spiritual change, not merely a mechanical or liturgical one. How might you commit to and pray for this transformation for yourself and for those you worship with at Eden Church?
Gather: Who else could join you in this intercession? Bring this to your small group and pray about these issues. Together look at John 4 and the interaction of the Samaritan woman with Jesus, discuss what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth