Yesterday I talked about three erroneous ways in which we go about “doing” church (Link: What if we are “doing” Church all wrong Pt.1) Somebody pointed out to me that we don’t really “do” church, instead we’re supposed to “be” church…He was absolutely correct. That being said, more than often church goers are rooted in the location that their church building resides. We are called to “be” His Bride.
We are called to “be” sons and daughters of the Most High.
We are called to “be” hold as He is holy.
Yet, there are times when the things we “do” in church becomes our primary focus.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these acts of worship are important and can lead us into a deeper fellowship with other believers and more importantly with God…but what if our “being” gets overshadowed by our “doing”? What happens then? What I mean is this: What happens when the ceremony, and following the “proper” forms of worship (whatever that looks like from denomination to denomination) becomes more important that the true meaning behind all of those ceremonies and forms?
Could we just be “playing” church?
Do you remember when you were a kid?
We used to play Cowboys and Indians, or “Dress-up” or Doctor. It was a fun imaginary game. We would assume these roles and play the part, and it was fun.
Is that what we sometimes do in church?
Are we just going through the necessary motions that we think we should be going through?
Are we “playing” church? Sure, it’s fun from time to time, it’s like an acting gig in a drama. We know all the right things to say,we wear all the right outfits, we sing all the right songs, but are we missing the mark? Are we missing the real reason we gather in the first place?
News Flash: God doesn’t want our ceremonies and our acting gigs. He wants our hearts. He simply wants us to “Be” His and His alone! He doesn’t want to share us with anything else in this world. God is truly a jealous God seeking after our hearts and lives. Even distractions and ceremony can become our idols of worship if we are not careful. Churches could be “doing” church simply because that’s how it’s always been done (Tradition), and so they maintain those traditions which can lead to losing any and all original significance on the premise of “maintaining”. Other churches could be “doing” church simply because they strive to do worship drastically different than prior generations (Contemporary), and so they maintain that level of worship which can also lead to losing any and all original significance on the premise of “being different and more progressive”. There’s nothing wrong with forms of worship unless they begin to replace God.
One might think I’m taking this too far, but hear me out.
“Doing church” is less important that “being” the church. Sometimes we sacrifice significance and holiness in exchange for forms of worship and proper protocol. We can become so stiff in our regulations of worship and what we think worship should look like that we can eventually lose all meaning.
When I think of this danger, I am immediately drawn to two stories in scripture:
1) Cain and Able
2) The Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
Cain – didn’t offer God the best, he did go through the motions of his offering, but it didn’t mean anything to him. His offering was the left overs, lacking love – it was “doing” church. God wasn’t pleased with this ceremony of worship. God knew Cain’s heart. It’s like two lovers confessing their love for one another. After the first says “I love you”, the other says “Well I kinda like you”… that’s just not good enough. It’s surfaced. It’s not what God desires. It’s all or nothing.
The Pharisees/Hypocrites in Jesus’ Day: “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.…” (Matthew 6:5,6)
In other words, are our prayers (and even forms of worship) merely for the benefit of others? Are we acting our parts in church? Are we doing church all wrong?
The word ‘Hypocrite’ literally means “actor”.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I don’t want to be an actor in church, I want to be genuine in my faith.
I honestly do not want to go through any kind of motions just because that’s how we always do it.
Are we merely acting in church?
Have we lost the meaning of what we do in our forms of worship?
Have we stopped ‘being’ holy so that we can ‘do’ church?
Are we more afraid of offending the formal pattern followers in church than we are in offending God in our offerings?
Are we seeking to please God or others?
Is this all that Church is about for us?
Soldiers: Are we more concerned in pleasing our officers, our founders in how we look and act than how we are in pleasing God in our genuine offerings?
Are there sacred cows that need to be finally put down and sacrificed to God?
If I’m honest, this article is all about me.
I’m the hypocrite…if you relate, perhaps we’re in the same boat.
Sometime’s I have been more interested in getting everything just right in worship than I have been about getting my heart right. Sometimes it’s much easier being the actor than it is to be real. -can you relate…I hope you can! (Please tell you can relate!)
I’m not criticizing, I’m just wondering how often we act the part in ‘doing’ church instead of ‘being’ His?
Again, more questions that answers.
Something more to ponder for us today.
To God be the glory!
To “be the church” implies action rather than passive watching. But before we can get up the courage to “be the church” in our daily lives in the world, we need to learn to “be the church” when we meet for worship. However, we can’t learn to “be the church” by sitting and listening to someone giving a weekly talk. We can only learn to “be the church” by each of us individually, doing what the Holy Spirit tells us to do.
It is frightening to obey the Spirit in day to day life. However, in the loving environment of an open, participatory church/corps meeting, we can learn to take baby steps in obedience to the Spirit. As the weeks grow by, we will find our courage, obedience, and spiritual boldness growing in the church meetings. Eventually we will become so comfortable being the church with one another, that we will begin to “be the church” with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers we meet along the way.
Well said Steve! Thank you!
Thanks Scott for your honesty and the questing to worship our amazing God who lavishes us with His Amazing Grace, and deserves our very best worship. I have to tell you that over the last couple of years I have found worship spiritually lacking that I can hardly bare to worship anymore. No matter where I go there is this awful loud tuneless songs that I’m sure even Jesus would hate.eveyone has jumped on the Hillsong band wagon, and although there is definitely a place for that kind of worship, it clearly is not for every church or every occasion. So thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone. Please God send the fire. We so need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,as it feels like satan is having a field day. Having a field day. Margaret Robb
Amen! Thank you for sharing Margaret! We certainly do need His outpouring upon us! I don’t want to just go through the motions, I want to mean it too! If it stops meaning anything to this heart, I feel I will be in trouble spiritually. His grace is enough and I know He will fall upon us once more!