Tag Archives: Liturgy

Repeating Christian Patterns

I guess it was a couple of weeks ago Internet Monk was writing about the benefit of liturgy in the worship process. How many people are returning to liturgical churches because they miss the rituals and imagery during the worship process. While I do not hold to that need, I can understand and appreciate it.

Roger Olson wrote earlier this week asking when was the last time people heard a sermon solely about the cross and that used words such as “blood” and “agony” and “sacrifice”. The point of the article was to show how evangelical churches have a tendency of moving away from crucicentrism, or the atoning work of Christ on the cross. I have seen similar conversations from other blogs on this as well.

I feel like the two issues are somewhat connected as they show that people are missing parts of their spiritual foundation.

The tabernacle was full of imagery. From the bronze laver and alter to the number of loaves on the Table of Showbread, the imagery in the ritual of sacrificial worship was everywhere. The ritual continued with the Ark was lost and it still continued when David put the Ark out for all to come and worship. The ritual reminds us of God’s promises but it is not required to worship God. When we are unable to worship without the ritual, we have a problem in our walk with God. This is true then as it is now. Liturgy offers valid benefits to people, but if our worship experience does not seem valid without it, then something is missing in our relationship with God.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses made altars when God did something for them. It was a place of reminder for them and those they told to the faithfulness and glory of God. When they saw the altars they remembered what God had done in their life and it was an encouragement. Their faith would be strengthened and increased as they continued on with their life, but they would not run out every week to see if it was still there. When we can not move past the foundation of what God has done and embrace what He is doing, then there is something missing in our relationship with God.

Got stuck here. I wanted to make this great point as to how wrong those people are, but I think I am wrong in wanting to do so.

I truly feel blessed that I am part of a church that preaches from the Bible and stresses maturity and a need to grow your relationship with God. Of course not all of the people who attend mature. There are several, probably at least half, who are content coming every week just to feel good and get encouraged then they go about their life as normal.

I know others feel blessed by their church and probably see what I am saying is wrong. Some of it might be. I hope I am open enough to correction to see where I am. I know I am saddened when I see those who are stuck and not moving forward. I know that they are in their comfort zone for whatever reason and they do not or can not move forward at this time. I am saddened when I see myself repeating a pattern, so I know there must be others who are saddened to see the areas I get stuck in.

It is part of being a Christian. It would be easy if there was a clear path of progression that we could all follow, but that is not how relationships work. We are all in the process of learning how to be sons and daughters of God. We are doing this while we are surrounded with ideas and behaviors that are contrary to Him. Have to be thankful for the mercy and grace we are shown.

I think the point of this post is to say that we don’t always have to repeat the pattern and getting out of our comfort zone is not pleasant at first, but the pain associated with it is primarily in our mind. God knows I get stuck on foolish things more often than I would like, so this is more for me than for others.

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Why Aren’t We Transformed Yet?

There was a post on Internet Monk the other day on “The Evangelical Myth of Transformation”.

Articles like this have a tendency to annoy me for many reasons.

I guess I would be considered somewhat of an evangelical, so I am a bit defensive when I perceive an attack against something I hold to be true. I can understand why the people at IM are put off of the evangelical movement. The evangelicals were basically started when people were moving past the need for liturgy and wanting to experience God on a more personal level. Churches popped up everywhere supporting these Christians who were searching for more. As with any quick growth movement, leaders appeared who did not have a solid biblical background. Accusations have been made that the evangelicals are more interested in the pursuit of experiencing God over being grounded in religious tradition and biblical truths. I will agree with this in part. I have seen many evangelical churches were the people are more interested in trying to feel good about themselves than pursuing God. I have also seen many liturgy churches where the people are more interested in holding to religious tradition rather than pursuing God. I do not think either side is 100% correct in their views.

Transformation can be a buzz word that churches use to draw people in. People are unhappy and wanting a change. They want a new life. They want to be transformed into something else. I whole heartedly believe in the transformation process and that it is possible today, but it is not just a changing of thinking or actions. The transformation is the old person dying and the new person living. Reading Watchman Nee helped in my understanding of this process.

One problem we have as Christians, is our thinking that salvation is done on an individual level. We ask Jesus into our heart and He makes us a new creation. When we are saved, we are baptized into Jesus. All that God did was done in Jesus and the only way we are transformed and made new is by being in Jesus. The individual that we were died and we live in Jesus only. If we abide in Jesus, we are transformed. If we try to remain our individual self, we are not transformed. This is why the church is not seeing people’s lives transformed.

Can transformation be immediate or even a quick process? Sure. If the person can fully let go of the old person and operate wholly within Jesus, their life will resemble that of Jesus. The problem is we all struggle with the process of reckoning ourselves dead. We act out of old behaviors and instincts and the dead individual is seen rather than Jesus. We are not fully submitting to Jesus as Lord but rather struggle to keep the individual alive.

So I can see why people doubt the validity of transformation. If you do not see the process then it must not be real, right? It must be some hype to make people feel good rather than an actuality. That is the same argument atheist make about God and Christianity though.

One day they will understand the process and realized that they two have been transformed by Christ. I am just sad they have to struggle trying to live as the old person instead of working to reckon themselves unto the new creation in Christ.

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