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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life is an experiment in worship

            Life is an experiment in worship.  If one’s worship, in daily life, isn’t experimental, there is at least a degree to which it isn’t really going on.  If one’s worship, corporately, isn’t experimental, it has moved from true worship towards mere human ritual.  Most of our corporate worship has moved to mainly ritual for so long that we believe that is normal.  Many well trained leaders have implicitly told us so since we have been believers in Jesus, and if one grew up going to traditional churches, as long as we can remember. 
            I only see one ritual in the Bible—baptism.  This usually happens with only believers around.  Our leaders, over the years, have concluded that, to communicate the message of Jesus, the principal method is sermons/speaking.  The reason, I imagine, is that it is something that can be conveniently packaged as a presentation, and packaging how a believer lives his/her life aright cannot, kind of like, as sporting events, basketball and figure skating package well for media presentation, and cross country racing, because of the distance of the playing field, and war, due to danger to spectators, media, and inability to just see the strategy, does not. 
            A couple of years ago, I signed up for the Reimagining Church RSS feed, and late last night I was reading old ones that I missed when first published.  One was about how the economic slump has precipitously raised the number of forclosures on church buildings in the states hardest hit by the recession.  Personally, I have noticed a street I must drive down for work in which three storefront churches have moved out of their rented buildings. 
            On yesterday’s blog, I mentioned Rend Collective Experiment.  The thing that strikes me as being unique about their music videos is that I feel that they really don’t care whether or not people like it or they become famous musicians, unlike anything I have seen since the beginning of music videos, and like some of the Christian music of the late 1960’s and first half of the 1970’s, when music business consensus was that Christian music wasn’t profitable (to them).
            Following Jesus isn’t about profit.  This week I got a funds solicitation letter from Voice of the Martyrs, one organization I feel at peace about supporting because they help our brother and sisters in Jesus who live in countries in which being a believer is either illegal or socially unacceptable.  The beginning of the letter has a quote from a Christian leader in Columbia (in that country, it is the drug cartels who oppose believers), and the quote is, “Jesus commands us to go.  He never promised that we would come back.”
            Going back to my original idea:  Life is an experiment in worship.  When doing an experiment, one doesn’t know the results.  In the real world, in a chemistry lab, if one does a certain thing, one always gets the same result.  If one doesn’t, you didn’t do something right.  In the realm of the Spirit, the opposite holds.  The Spirit goes where He wills.  If one witnesses a certain way, that it works (whatever that means) today, it almost assuredly will not again.  There was a tv evangelist in the 1980’s who showed clips of his praying for persons.  In the clips, he always had someone who was deaf, he always prayed for them the same way, and they were always healed, although the facial reactions differed.  Eventually, someone found out that these scenes were acted, and the “evangelist” disappeared from tv for about two decades.  When he returned, the scenes were replaced by persons telling about a healing incident, i.e. you had to imagine it in your mind.  In a strange way, it reminds me of the Barry Greenstein commercial on the Game Show Network, “I could steal from the rich, but poker is more fun.” 

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