Saturday, March 7, 2009

Christian (trans)formation (2)

I appreciated the comment on my February 10 post about how worship shapes people into God's community. It raised questions about defining worship carefully and expressed understandable scepticism: "Are you speaking about worship as we call our weekly praise gathering....I'm not sure how (this) accomplishes significant change." Good point! - can praise worship services change people? Anyway, shoudn't their focus be on God, not on us?

I have just finished reading Mark Labberton's: The Dangerous Act of Worship. It makes uncomfortable reading. He says: "Worship turns out to be the dangerous act of waking up to God and to the purposes of God in the world, and then living lives that actually show it." As we praise God he calls us to the twin responsibilities of loving him and our neighbor. These are inseparable dimensions for worship. He considers much of the church is asleep: "Will God's people wake up to worshiping God in such a way that we demonstrate we are awake by loving our neighbor in God's name?"

So much challenged me. In particular he spells out the "false dangers'' that end up domesticating worship into safety first for ourselves. Instead of worship that includes glory and honor due God, and also enacts God's love, justice, mercy and kindness:
we are scared of worship that's-
  • not under control
  • doesn't seem relevant
  • doesn't meet expectations
  • isn't popular
  • isn't comfortable
  • is unfamiliar.

Rather, than seeking to keep people happy, he pleads for worship that seeks to encounter the real God, concerned about his truth, and being willing to change and to change the world (Micah 6:8).

This opens up a dimension of worship that has set me reeling. I want to try and tease out more implications in these forthcoming lectures. As always, your insights are welcome

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The twin responsibilities of loving God and our neighbor are ringing true with me, but how we do that requires discernment and wisdom. Certainly our culture encourages protection and safety over loving our neighbors and questions our wisdom when we reach out to help even within the body of Christ. Frequently, believes think of themselves first while they "feel sorry for" others. It is discouraging knowing that many together could overcome many problems but alone little can be done. This failing does not absolve us of our responsibilities though. It should spur us to action and to our knees.