Monday, March 14, 2011

Give Up Worship For Lent!

For Lent, I propose a holy fast! A fast from worship! A fast from worship for the rest of your life! The word "worship" comes from the Old English word "weorthscipe" and means "to ascribe worth to God." And I contend that in most circles the idea is taken a step further and worship is understood to mean "to add worth to God." It is thought in the minds of many that when people gather in the name of Christ on Sunday morning it is because we have something that God wants--our worship. The true God is turned into a pagan deity whose existence depends on our worship--much like the deities depicted in the movie Clash of the Titans.

The idea that we gather primarily for the benefit of God is deeply embedded in the vocabulary of almost every denomination even though it varies by denomination. The Roman Catholic has his "holy days of obligation." But surely Protestants have cast all this aside, haven't they? No, in many cases Protestants are worse. The Purpose-Driven crowd very explicitly says that worship is not for you, it's for God--apparently God has low self-esteem. Even the Westminster Confession suggests that the chief end of man is "to glorify God." It goes on to say "and enjoy Him forever" but the emphasis seems to be on "bringing glory to God." God needs a glory recharge. We are even told by some that it is inappropriate for us to cry out to God for help without first engaging in some flowery adoration--because it's very important to suck up to the man upstairs.

The idea that we add worth to God is found in the vocabulary of different church bodies in regard to the sacraments. Certain ideas within Roman Catholic theology are very bad in this regard, but Protestants are far worse. Baptist groups speak of the sacraments as "ordinances" which turn them into a work that we perform. Those in the Reformed camp speak of sacraments as "means of grace" but treat them as ordinances. They teach that the sacraments are transformed into means of grace through the individual partaking worthily. In practice they regard them as ordinances that must be carried out. That is why they practice communion infrequently. If communion were a wonderful gift then they would have communion as often as possible. But they regard it as law, so they do it as infrequently as they feel they can legally. Some attach lengthy forms to make sure that ever i is dotted and every t crossed. The form itself leads to infrequent communion because nobody wants to hear the form read again.

If we do not gather to give God something then why gather at all? We do not gather for worship. We gather for Gottesdienst. We gather for God's service. We do not gather to serve God but to be served by God. We gather to receive the forgiveness of sins from God. We gather to receive God's flesh and blood to eat and drink. God's flesh and blood are gifts, not ordinances. God is not made better by our "worship." God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn't need anything from us. After we receive God's good gifts we naturally respond in thanksgiving to God, but to put the emphasis on our thanksgiving is absolutely ridiculous. If someone were handing out free money and you were going to go pick some up and then tell the guy thank you, what would you say when your friend asks you what you are doing. "I'm going to go tell someone thank you." No! You would tell him that there is guy and he's giving out all this money and you are going to receive some of it.

I declare a fast--a fast from worship! Receive the good gifts of God. Receive forgiveness of sins! Receive Jesus' very body and blood!

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