If you just decide not to read some of these old posts of late, I’m not gonna moan and cry.
I am writing and working–trying to be ready for speaking three times this weekend. I promise to share some fresh stuff in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, we will blow past 84,000 views in the next few hours it appears. That’s hard for me to imagine. I am thankful for the voice your reading is giving me.
Enjoy, comment, and share if you can…
It is somewhat amazing to think of the things we do in the name of religion. Worse, is the way we often describe it.
So many in our culture are looking for an authentic religious experience. Unfortunately, so many also define religious authenticity as a worship experience that moves them in some emotional way.
Don’t get me wrong. I crave those times of worship. I need our worship leader (who is simply wonderful) to help us enter the throne room of God in a passionate, emotional way. As mystical as it might sound to some who are more logical and rote in their approach to worship, I want to be moved by the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, and the word we preach.
And, I am not so naive as to think that my frame of mind, attitude, and effort isn’t important to the whole process. But when you crave intimacy through worship, you can find it if your heart is right no matter the songs we sing or the leader who leads.
But what gets me and I know I sound like a broken record to some is how much of our religion is defined by what we do in a worship assembly. It’s the “go to church” mentality.
And frankly, I am quite weary with the kind of Christianity that sees its sum total as taking place on Sunday morning. I wouldn’t miss worshiping with my family for anything, but if that is all there was to it, Christianity is shallow at best and worst, empty of anything that really matters.
Authentic religion is best described by James the brother of Jesus who says, If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted in the world. (James 1:26-27 NIV)
Sometimes I wish we didn’t have a single church building to our name. Again, don’t get me wrong. Church buildings can be one of the most valuable tools we own. I pray that every church building be utilized to its fullest from soup kitchens to after school play times to whatever gets us involved in the lives of those who live in our vicinity.
Authentic religion is living out our beliefs in God-honoring, life-changing ways. It is changing how we think, speak, and act. It means looking after the needs of those who may be unable to help themselves. It means going to places and being with people we might never associate with in a normal and sane world. It is all about knowing whom we belong to and living accordingly.
The reality is that authentic religion, authentic Christianity is not played out in pristine, sterile settings! An Australian, John Smith, once wrote, If I remember correctly, it was a clergyman of some distinction who said long ago that we must rediscover the fact in the church that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on a town garbage heap that was so cosmopolitan they had to list his name in several languages, in a place where men talked smut and where soldiers gambled for the only thing he possessed. That’s what Jesus was about and that’s what the church ought to be about.
So where does Sunday morning worship fit into authentic religion? It is the time where we renew and revive our connection to the Father and to each other–it is the time when we encourage and are encouraged to live like Jesus, to love like the Lord, and to care like the Good Shepherd!
If you want an authentic Christian life, then be in worship this Sunday. Magnify the name of the Lord. And then take Him into the highways and byways of the life you have been given!
Les Ferguson, Jr.
July 5, 2006