January 13, 2014
Okay so this rumination is 35 years too late. But better late than never, right? So, does anyone know off of the top of your head what the #1 single record of the 1970’s was? Wait for it… wait for it… it was: “You Light up my Life” by Debby Boone. There are some who are critical of this song because it’s too… “schlocky”. Know what I mean? But I have other issues that frankly apply to some aspects of our life today, believe it or not.
First, let me say that the song was not written by Debby. Nor did she sing it with the original intent of the author in mind. It was composed as a love song from one person to another. She sang it however as if she were singing about or to God. You may know that she is a person of deep faith. Now, here’s the problem… do you remember the lyrics, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right”? Anybody have a problem with that? You should. Since when do we allow our “emotions” to determine what is right and wrong? Well the truth is… too many folks do that!
Too many young people get caught up in dreadful relationships because it “feels right.” For lonely adolescent kids, almost any relationship feels right when someone gives them an inordinate amount of attention. But what about the church? If I have had one I have had a thousand conversations over the years with people convinced they have “worshipped” because they “felt” like they did. They could “feel” the presence of the Holy Spirit. My contention is this – that may be the case, but if there are not other indicators… well we need to be careful about trusting our emotions. Too many churches and pastors play with the feelings of congregants so that they think they have worshipped. Frankly, if I want to manipulate someone into a “feeling” all I have to do is pick certain songs. That sounds disingenuous to me! We need to have a greater sense of our faith than simple “feelings.” Don’t get me wrong… emotion is absolutely a part of the faith and a part of worship and if someone only has a head knowledge then they are equally as stunted in their worship… but if feelings are all there is… It helps to explain why so many folks travel from one “church of what’s happening now” to another “church of what’s happening now.” Feelings and the “show” can only take us so far before we become bored with them. Unless we are deeply grounded in our faith and have a clear sense of what we believe and “who” our God is… well we can’t very well worship no matter what the circumstances.
There are a couple of verses in the O.T. that I find very troubling…
Isaiah 1: 11“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Amos 5: “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
There are several other verses that reference this notion of God “hating” our worship. Why? Because we worship outwardly but have not embraced the true God! We don’t show love and justice. We do not live the lives we are called to live. This kind of worship is about outward appearance but not about being grounded in the faith.
Well, that’s kind of problematic wouldn’t you say? Just because it might “feel” right and even “look” right… it might not be right. At the very least I can say this…
1 Peter 3:14-16 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
We need to have a reason for what we believe outside of, “Well, it feels right.” And frankly we need to be able and prepared to articulate that reason. So, what’s your reason for calling Jesus Lord?