In recent posts across my circle of blog friends, a lot has been said about worship. A statement I’ve seen several times referring to methods of worship, and comparing them to the underground churches in other countries has been in my head reminding me of the pain and sacrifice many Christians endure around the world in order to worship together. Here we see people in China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and other facist controlled nations having to choose between life and acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Savior. I think of the strength that their faith in Christ must give them, and their “take the whole world, but give me Jesus” resolve they must have.
I’ve looked at websites today that show the torture of Christians in China. I’ve seen pictures of underground church services in other nations (with the faces distorted to protect their identity) where you can see the glow of God’s Glory coming through. You can tell how intense the worship is, and how hungry these people are for God. There are no video projectors, no sound equipment, synthesizers, just the cry of their hearts.
Then I think about us, here in the United States where we are free to worship with the level of passion we choose with no fear of (real) persecution (I’m sorry, somebody calling us “holy rollers,” or “holier than thou” is not persecution!). In many churches, we have projectors so people can sing “off the wall.” We have hymnals for people who want to sing old stuff out of a book. We have PA systems that we complain about being too loud, or complain it’s not loud enough. We have air conditioning and padded seats. We have an espresso bar in the foyer, and computer generated bulletins to keep us up to date on when the next church-wide picnic’s going to be. We have the most anointed, skilled musicians to usher us into an atmosphere of worship. We have a pastor with a Doctorate in Theology to break down the Word of God for us and bring us a rhema Word from the Lord every service. In some American churches it’s not so technologically advanced, or so loaded with the comforts above, yet the atmosphere is still the same.
The common denominator that I see among American churches is not traditional vs contemporary, or energy vs peaceful. The problem I see is that through our complacency in our freedom, Americans are not “getting” how real God is, and how vital of a role that Christ plays in our lives. Most American Christians don’t seem to have a “take the whole world, but give me Jesus” attitude in their every day lives. We have pews that are full of people whose every day life is not being adjusted to reflect a lifestyle of one who is being transformed by the renewing of their mind. I talk to people like that all the time. I’m not “judging” their relationship with God. I am, however, trying to show the extreme contrast between “comfortable” American Christians and those who risk everything just to say “I love You, Jesus.”
The answer, of course is not to remove all of the things we have been so blessed to be able to have – these things should be able to be used aid in the presentation of the Gospel to an A.D.D. media-minded world. It is not to shut down worship services where we can worship as passionately and loudly as we want (we should do it even more, taking full advantage of this freedom to worship). I believe that the problem in most church attendees is that we see many “decisions”, but few persuasions.
We spend so much time between the denominations arguing, “once saved always saved” and “the backslidden condition” doctrines that we have forgotten about the root of the entire path: Be so in love with Jesus, that when you do slip into sin, that you refuse to let it sever your love relationship with with Him.
Paul said in Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
His point goes way deper than whether a loose life will seperate you from the love of God or not. When we truely believe what Christ did for us at the Cross, repent (turn AWAY from sin), and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, it’s a forever life-changing event. Paul’s conversion gives us a prime example of that. When one has truely given their lives to Christ, their lives are to be so changed that they absolutely are persuaded that NOTHING is going to get between them and God. There will never be anything that can tear them away from the love of God (or even their love of Him). This is the attitude of the believers in an underground church, as I believe it should be the attitude of us “free” believers.
added 11:00 pm
It has been brought to my attention some error in what I have communicated – mainly in the last few paragraphs. After reading the section, I’m not even sure if it fits in the subject matter. However, my point about Paul’s statements in Romans 8 is that WE should refuse to allow anything to disrupt our relationship with God. I personally am not convinced of the once saved always saved school of thought (however I’m not convinced that one act of sin will send us to hell). I’m trying to communicate that it’s time that believers strengthen their persuasion to NOT allow things to come between them and God. We should also be mindful that a relationship with Christ envolves more than just going to church and being a good person.
Maybe it would be better to say the following instead of going into the persuation topic:
Let’s not let the freedom, prosperity, and all of our stuff in our lives and in our church services spoil us to the point that it’s all about those things and not about a deep love for Christ. Let’s be thankful for what we have at our disposal, stop complaining about how those things are used and keep the main thing the main thing.