Meeting God on Any Day but Sunday – Romans 12:1-2

  • Read Romans 12:1-2 here and Matthew 9 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (26 July) you can listen to it here.

I have never really understood the desire of some people to place God in a church building shaped box.  If God is universally present,  shouldn’t I regularly pay Him attention throughout the week, not just storing it up until Sunday?  If prayer or Scripture reading, or singing is worship  on Sunday, then isn’t it on Thursday?  Perhaps some of the disagreement comes from a failure to distinguish between “corporate worship” and “individual worship”?

I accept the idea of “corporate worship” and believe that we worship differently when we come together as a body than we do in “individual worship”.  An important principle of corporate worship is that we act in a way that considers others (1 Cor. 14:15-17, 26) while “individual worship” is solely between the individual and God.  While applied particularly to the practice of speaking in tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:18-19 seem to indicate a couple of key points regarding worship in general:

  1. In v18 Paul says he frequently speaks in tongues.  Since the chapter’s context argues against tongue-speaking in the church assembly without an interpreter, Paul either speaks in tongues as private worship, or in the assembly with interpreters present.
  2. The opening words of v19, “But in the church (assembly)…”, clearly indicate to me that Paul’s tongue-speaking takes place outside of the worship assembly.   Thus pointing to: 1) private worship, and 2) different practices between individual and corporate worship.

Building on last week’s discussion that proposed that listening to God in worship is as important as talking to God, this week’s sermon asked the question, “In addition to regular Bible reading, where do we meet/hear God outside of corporate worship?” Jesus was the master of the object lesson.  Based on all the parables, metaphores, and images found in the Gospels, it seems that you could play a game with him where you gave him something obscure and asked him to use it to teach a spiritual truth.  And he’d win every time!

Jesus teaching style involved constant interaction with the world around him.  He saw God’s presence everywhere and he learned from it.  In contrast, many Christians seem to look at the world around us and see only the presence of evil.  However, all is not lost!  I believe this is a skill, or perspective that can be learned.  Peter Randall’s post in which he proposes modernized equivalents of Jesus “I am” statements in John seems to me to be a helpful process.

There’s a lot to talk about in this post, so feel free to tackle any of the ideas, but let me throw out a few questions that may help prompt converasation. Where have you met God during the week?  Are there particular signs, businesses, natural beauty etc. that remind you of God?  Can you think of some parables or Biblical illustrations that have modern equivalents?

Songs & Scripture

I guess the most prolific collection of songs along this week’s theme are those that speak of God’s presence in nature, but maybe you can think of some other illustrations.

  • For the Beauty of the Earth
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • This is My Father’s World
  • Walking Alone at Eve
  • Can You Count the Stars of Morning? (SFP)
  • Fairest Lord Jesus (SFP)
  • Have You Seen Jesus My Lord? (SFP)
  • How Great Thou Art (SFP)
  • I Come to the Garden Alone (seems to describe “individual worship”)
  • Free to be Me (Francesca Battistelli on the album My Paper Heart the lyrics use the image of ripped jeans and dented fender to reminds us of God’s grace and willingness to overlook our imperfections.)
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2 comments

  1. blcasey

    I have a lot of thoughts in this topical area and will choose a few things to comment on. First, I completely agree that God doesn’t live in building-shaped box!

    You suggested that private worship might be different from corporate. To take that a little further, I’d say that it’s probably not different in quality but is clearly different in number.

    For years I’ve felt that the use of Romans 12 in CofC (and other) worship discussions was overplayed. In my experience, Romans 12 has frequently been a favorite passage of those who a) don’t like to sing, and therefore don’t tend to appreciate much about corporate worship, or those who b) resist, as I do, the notion of the five acts of worship, or who c) for some other reason want to downplay corporate worship.

    On the other hand, I’ve appreciated the balanced approach to worship that was evident in the combination of the last two Sunday sermons. When taken in isolation, a few statements in one week might have led people to think one way only, but viewed in harmony with the other week’s comments … well, good stuff!

    By the way, (a) above begs the question of what else we might spend time doing–other than singing, that is–in corporate worship … so that can’t-carry-a-tune saints could feel more gathered and included. The whole church might end up with more engaged worship, too.

    It seems to me that the frequently surfacing confusion about what is worship and what is service is made worse by the use of the term “worship service” and its malevolent cousins “the service” and “the song service.” These phrases, at least to my ear, tend to make corporate worship seem more static, as in “ceremony,” and they blend the twin ideas of worship and service so as to make them indistinct.

    A couple of my own essayettes from a few months ago may express something helpful on this topic: http://blcasey.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/one-is-one-and-the-other-is-the-other/
    http://blcasey.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/continuousness/

    And these others describe how a simple observation–in this case, something about our dog–during “the rest of the week” can lead us to private worship: http://blcasey.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/protection-by-a-higher-power-tessa-terdays-news/
    http://blcasey.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/pavlov-tessa-and-worship/

    Vive la worship, and viva la service!

  2. Lynn Clapp

    Peter, I would like to expand the horizon of this subject a bit. There is a smooth unbroken stream of comprehension and communication between man and God.

    There is public and private worship, prayer —then a much larger area — man’s thinking and meditation.

    With only an hour of class time, there are limitations on what can be discussed.

    One can begin with Proverbs 4:20-23 and find many more Scritpures with Philippians 4:8 for emphesis.

    David was called by God when still a shepherd boy. It was at this young age, God referred to him as a man after His own heart. I picture a young man, tending flock with hours upon hours of nothing to do but watch and let his mind wonder. I believe, David found the ideas for his Psalms while herding sheep. They were applied and written down later.

    People today should find solitude to think. Turn off the head sets, cell phones and TV. Think when driving the car on long trips. Consider this a replacement for “counting sheep” at night.

    In thinking, one can come to understand how particular Scriptures fit together, how to reach out to others, how to solve sticky problems.

    God is observing from above or from where He is. One’s thinking and one’s prayers are really a similar form of communication?

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