What if we are “doing” Church all wrong? Pt. 2

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.

Photo Jan 09, 9 46 06 AMThe “Ceremony”
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? pretend
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.

Photo Jan 09, 9 36 47 AMThe 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.

Questions:
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?

confessionIf 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!

Authentic or Fake? (Igniting the Passion Again!)

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Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

–Genesis 5:24

 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:20)

 

Is there meaning behind what you do in your worship? 

How is your heart?  Is it still in it?  Are you in love with God?  These questions may get to the heart of the matter.  We are called ‘Children of God’ (Gal 3:26) and yet at times we act like we are mere acquaintances of God.   I will admit that there have been times when my heart just hasn’t been in the worship service that I am attending.   Have you been to that point? 

 

Setting the stage

You get up and prepare for the Sunday Morning Service.  You put on your ‘church clothes’, comb or brush your hair…and make sure everything is in place.  On the way out the door you grab your Bible, which may have been resting in the same spot since last time you went to church.  You get in your car or van and race to the church because you are nearly late…someone cuts you off on your way to the church building.  Then you get to the church and find all the ‘good parking spots’ are already taken.  So you finally reach the front doors of the church building in a huff, slightly irritated and just a little bit disheveled…but you still have your Bible in hand. 

 

When you finally sit down in the pew as the service is about to start, you suddenly realize you didn’t eat breakfast…great one more thing to think about during church.  You stand when they tell you to stand, you sit back down when they tell you to sit, and all the while you are staring at the clock thinking about what you will do with the rest of your day.  You barely hear what the pastor preaches on…the first joke in the introduction was funny but after a while the sermon just becomes the mumblings of that teacher on the t.v. show ‘Peanuts’…”Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah.” 

 

The Heart of the Matter:

Hopefully your worship doesn’t look like that!  But if truth be told I would almost bet that you have had those Sundays.  My question to you is “why even go to church then?”  If we aren’t emotionally, physically and intellectually there in the first place, why even show up? 

 

There are a lot of people out there who go to church but fail to actually show up.  It’s unfortunate, I’ve been there, and it happens.  It makes me wonder sometimes if we aren’t acting a little like the Pharisees of old.  We’re all about the ritual of worship…we all know the right songs to sing and the right ‘Amen’s’ to proclaim at any given time in the service, but our hearts are just not in it. 

 

Dare I prod us all for a moment:  If we just show up for worship on Sunday mornings (or whatever day we attend church) but we aren’t really there…aren’t we a little like the Pharisees that Jesus talked about that were all about cleaning the outside of the cup but not too serious about cleaning the inside? (Luke 11:39)  Now I’ve probably stepped on a few toes with that one…but I have to confess…I’ve done it too!

I’ve been just as guilty of showing up for Sunday service and said all the right things and gone through all the right motions and yet my heart has not been in it. 

 

This isn’t some sort of guilt trip that I want to lay on you today.  I don’t want us all to think that we’re awful people by any means.  But what I do feel as if God wants from us all is not our ritualistic church attendance.  Or our ritualistic methodology…or even our ritualistic uniform/church clothes that we wear so that we fit in.  What God wants from us is our hearts.  He wants our worship, our undivided attention.  He wants from us authenticity in the songs we sing, the scriptures we read and in the sermons we hear or the sermons we preach.  HE DOES NOT WANT OUR LIP SERVICE!  He never did!!! 

 

He wants to make us holy, set apart people for Him!  We can’t just settle for cleaning the outside of the cup and keep up appearances of something that isn’t true on the inside!  God wants us to be real, to be vulnerable people before Him.  He calls us all to genuine fellowship with Him.  The kingdom of God begins within our authentic worship of a God who has poured out His unmerited favor on us.  How can our hearts NOT be in on that? 

 

To the pretenders out there STOP PRETENDING!  Either get on with real worship and adoration of God or just get out of the way!  To the luke-warm believer: MAKE UP YOUR MIND!  Don’t settle for a skim-milk type of passion.  Don’t stop at just being a ‘ok’ in your faith…we all have to grow and mature!  Get on with it!  To those of you who are ON FIRE FOR GOD: Don’t let your flame go out!  Keep burning for the rest of us so that we have something to aim for! 

 

RECAP:

Don’t fake it.  Don’t settle for mediocrity.  Don’t suffocate your fire with distractions, worries and things that have no eternal worth! 

 

REMEMBER: Have passion, clean the inside of the cup daily, and walk with God…He longs for you to do so! 

 

 

 

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