- 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:
- 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.
- 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.)