Lethargic Liturgy

Believing in Creator God has never been difficult for me.

What is hard to imagine is that someone could see the beauty and majesty of the mountains or swim in the ocean, so magnificent and complex, or experience the miraculous birth of a child–and say that this world came into existence by chance.

Part of the dilemma for many is not, “do I believe in God”, but

Do I believe I can trust Him.

Even the so-called atheist seems to struggle with being angry at a God they say they don’t believe in, and often it is because they feel like they have gotten the raw deal from Him.  And so they choose to live a life of denial and distrust.

Alone. Apart from the God who created them and loves them.

For me, believing God–and the Words He has preserved for us in the Bible is a matter of simple faith.

But the evidence is clear.

If you are only willing to seek truth, you will find it.  There are plenty of resources out there that will help you discover the historical and archaeological evidence of God’s written Word, if that’s what you need in order to consider the claims of Jesus.  My pastor-husband always likes to remind our congregation that “God doesn’t expect you to leave your intellect at the door!”  Engage your mind.  Be willing to consider that in your human fallibility you just might have missed the truth–by neglect or otherwise.

My husband and I are planning now for our second visit to the places of the Bible.  Come December we will host a trip to the Holy Land.  I was in Israel for the first time in 1998, (you can read about it here), but I didn’t need to see Bethlehem to believe that it was the place written of in the gospel accounts of Jesus birth. Neither did I need to walk into the garden tomb, or see Golgotha–the “place of the skull”–to believe the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

But it did make those events come alive–and it did change how I read the Bible.

When I read the story of the woman at the well, or the one of a lame man that was told to “rise up and walk!”, they are more than just stories on the pages of a book, I see humanity.

The adulterous woman in John 8, condemned by the law, but given another chance by a compassionate Jesus.

Matthew, the tax collector.  Despised by even his own people because of his occupation, yet called by Jesus to be one of His most trusted apostles.

Simon Peter and Andrew, fishermen who were called out of the common and into the extraordinary. Leaving their nets behind for a life of sacrifice and service.

Or this man, so often ignored, reduced to begging for bread, until Jesus’ disciples passed by and offered him The Bread of Life:

Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.”  So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them.  But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong.  So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him.  Acts 3:1-10

While I cannot fully imagine their circumstances, I can certainly picture their reaction to these life-changing encounters with Him.

The awe.  The wonder.  The joy.

And worship.

Pure, unadulterated, “I don’t care what other people say” kind of worship.  Falling at the feet of the only One who can change lives–the only One worthy of our praise.

And yet.

Yet we have been just as loved. Just as healed. Just as forgiven. Just as changed.

Just as called.  “Follow Me,” Jesus says.

Yet, here we are, going through the motions of worship without fully engaging our minds, and even worse, our hearts.

Lethargic Liturgy.

How could we?  How could we experience this love, this grace, this mercy–and respond with anything less than a heart of worship?

Are you…

anxious to worship or anxious to leave?

Treasuring the time or counting the minutes?

Reading your Bible or scanning the pages?

Singing the songs or saying words that you don’t mean.

Are you attending a church or are you the church.

I don’t know about you, but when the calendar turns to a new year, I am always looking for new possibilities.  Is it possible that God is calling us out of our comfort zone–out of lethargy and to something much more intentional.

Time is precious.  Every day is a gift. And I, for one, do not want to just go through the motions, just to mark off another 24-hour period or another 365 days off the calendar.

If this is going to be true, then I want to be intentional about seeking Him.

Here’s how I will do that:

By reading His Word.  Studying it.  Praying over it and through it and because of it.  Letting His Word so fill me and change me that, like Peter and John,

Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4: 19-20

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