“Let the Words of Christ dwell in you richly…”(Col.3:16 NIV)
Have you ever been so full that you didn’t know what to do or how to feel? A small part of you felt good and another wanted to give back (sorry… couldn’t resist the pun) what you just took in. In the same way, Paul reminds his readers to do the same with the Word of God. He asks them to “allow the Word of God to inhabit them to the point of fullness and abundance.” This is interesting advice in today’s society where the mere notion of scriptural basis for anything is outrightly rejected and deemed as unacceptable.
Truth be told, this is why there is such incredible wisdom behind the teaching of the sainted apostle. He commands the people to be in such deep commune with God in that the Words of Christ inhabit them. It becomes them- it becomes us. This is why the world often rejects allusions to the Word, much less the direct quote of the same. When people, unmindful as they may be, have not allowed themselves to be immersed and indwelt by the Word, they use it unwisely. The Bible then becomes a weapon to destroy rather than a word to rebuild. It becomes anachronistic rather than authoritative. It becomes intrusive rather than understanding. The mouths that speak expose the hollow soul from within.
When we allow the Word of God to live in us – indwell us – our lives become the living proof of the words that have consumed us. We pause from merely speaking the Word and begin to truly live it. This is what is most desirable in a world full of window-dressed facades. Society is looking for the true followers of the way: people beyond the window dressed Christianity who because of the way they live, speak compellingly. Their words, though contrary, become increasingly palatable not by reason of flattery but because of a life well-lived. Consumed followers of Christ may be on the other side of the road- but wow… they sure are attractively convincing. They become interesting and inviting to an otherwise tired and sarcastic society. This was the church’s mandate in Colosae…it is ours as well today.
The only way to be this? Pray… Dear Lord… Consume Me…open the Word… breathe It all in… and when they come… breathe It out.
True Worship must begin from within.
A recent visit with my Philosophy class to a Sikh Temple brought me to some realizations and confirmed things in me that I already knew to be true. It also made me aware of the sad state of evangelical faith and worship that exists in today’s churches. As I went through their process of preparation, I observed the others who actually worshipped at that temple and came to a confirmation of what true worship must really be in order for it to accomplish what it was designed to do in our daily lives. By this I do not wish to validate the “object” of the worshipper’s focus. Rather, It is to emphasize and clarify what needs to be present in order for True Worship (generically speaking) to happen. As I observed them, I saw what has been lacking in the Christian churches in these days and times. Regardless of the mode or style of worship that today’s church implores, many churches are way too outwardly focused.
With the desire to generate inward change, which hopes to result in outward transformation, people have decided to begin the process from the outside in the hopes that the outside stimuli will predicate an inward regeneration of the soul. Good intentions come what may; this cannot and will not result in lasting change both personally and corporately. Somewhere along the line, the church has gotten reversed; and in the process short changed itself from true and lasting results. In today’s church, the programs and activities of liturgy are directed on the outward or physical aspects of man. They aim to stimulate the outward man “enough” in the hopes of bringing him to an encounter with his current internal and spiritual state of being. This often results in an incredible and albeit emotional response leaving the worshipper in a seeming holy repose. Emotionally and physically spent, this person will walk out of the sanctuary thinking and almost truly feeling that something real, something significant has happened to them. Yet sad to say, when asked what truly has happened? What decisions have been made? And more importantly, what has God revealed to them? The response draws a blank or painfully even- a slight on the person who has dared to ask. This practice (though sincere) will be repeated over and over again almost to the point that he who worships God seems to be begging and imploring God to show His favor upon him just so He could go on living for another day. Despite these endearing characteristics, the desperation need not be so. For God has already come to us when it became obvious that it was impossible for us to come to Him.
By this, a few definitions are in line. Jesus, in His conversation with the Samaritan woman, defined what He meant by True Worship. In the Gospel of John he said:
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
-John 4:24 NASU
He mentioned that a true worshipper must approach God meeting two basic requirements and when He mentioned worship, it was defined in a very particular way.
Worship: proskune/w proskuneo (pros-koo-neh’-o); from and a probable derivative of (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):
Spirit: pneu=ma pneuma (pnyoo’-mah); from a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit:
Truth: a)lh/qeia aletheia (al-ay’-thi-a); from truth:
KJV – true, truly, truth, verity. a) lhqeu/w aletheuo (al-ayth-yoo’-o); from to be true (in doctrine and profession): KJV – speak (tell) the truth.
(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
If you haven’t noticed yet, the sincere worship that he desires must actually begin inwardly. It must be derived from an inward preparation to receive instructions for what changes should come outwardly. There must be an inward preparation (of the spirit through prayer, meditation and a study of the Word) to hear from God long before one is in the house of God. When the preparation is done, the accomplishment of True Worship now commences. True Worship must not end in the commune with God. It must extend to the people of God. This is the “Truth” that Jesus was speaking of.
True worship needs to begin with an earnest hunger for God that results in the preparation, more so even to the extent of removing any hindrances to hearing from God. In due course, the worshipper becomes mandated to move from inward worship directed toward God, to outward worship resulting in both personal and corporate change of those that are around him.
When a persons worship results in helping others, his worship then become a true statement of affairs on what has transpired in his heart as a result of his encounter with God. Only then can one say that he has truly had a worship encounter. True Worship thus begins.
5 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” 6 we can boldly quote,
God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather it is staring at it…knees shaking… eyes watering and nearly crying… lips quivering… heart pounding… and then in that one moment, digging your heels down deep into the soil … squaring your shoulders back and head forward…and with one thrust from a made up mind you realize … you were made for this moment. The Almighty has designed it and He has called your number out. He has prepared you and trained to conquer. And so with knees shaking… eyes watering and nearly crying… lips quivering and heart pounding…you move forward into the eye of the storm. Armed with Faith, you press on believing that though you may not come out of this whole mess the way you envisioned, you know in your heart that after the battle, you will break out victorious and shaped just like the master had planned.
Perhaps some will take pity. Others will question you faith; debate its veracity and dismiss the same as foolishness or just plain crazy. Many offer a shoulder to cry on and an encouraging word. And though you resist and decline the offer, in your heart you slump in the comfort of their emotional arms. You are wounded and hurt. You cry out in despair after looking at the spoils that are left from your battle yet down in your heart of hearts you rest in the knowledge that you came out of the war exactly in the way the Almighty planned it. And so you rest awhile. You attend to your wounds. The man inside you says” enough”! But there’s a fire inside you that says, “Let’s do this again”! You yearn to stare at fear again. Your heart desires to feel your knees shaking… eyes watering and nearly crying… lips quivering… heart pounding… and then the battle cry! The only thing that stands between you and your victory is your faith…no not even your enemy. He is bt a mere tool in this whole war. You understand that the battle for life is not complicated by a dangerous enemy but rather a weak faith. And so you rise again. You put your battered armor one a piece at a time. You look to your left and then to your right. You see you’re not alone after all. Other soldiers beside you are ready to go. They have the same fire in your eyes. Their knees shaking… eyes watering and nearly crying… lips quivering… heart pounding… and then in that one moment, just like you, you dig your heels down deep into the soil … squaring your shoulders back and head forward…and with one thrust from a made up mind you realize … you were made for this moment.
Injured…hurt…and in pain…yet just the same – Victorious!
Courage… you were born for this!
Such is life…
“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28 All this time and money wasted on fashion — do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29 but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers — most of which are never even seen — don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31 What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 32 People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Nuff Sed! God said is better…sit up and listen!