Greetings everyone! This is my first contribution to MDCC's Worship blog, but it's great to be a part of it! Shelley has asked me to share with all of you, so here it is:
I want to talk to you today about something the Lord has been speaking to me. As I've meditated on it, the Lord has shown me that it is something that the worship community at MDCC needs to hear. Please take the time to read this and talk to the Lord about it!
The Lord has been speaking to me a lot lately in regards to relating and responding according to the Gospel. What I mean by this is that God is challenging me to relate and respond to others and to the circumstances of life based on the truth of the Gospel. This means that I do not relate to others based on my old nature. This also means that I do not relate to others just like the world does. Even further, this means that I do not relate to others a certain way simply because "it just makes sense". The same goes for life circumstances. When things go wrong or even if they go right, the only response truly representative of who I am in Christ is a response that is in line with the Gospel.
When this truth invades your life, it can be quite offensive. A lot of the ways that we relate and respond to people and things are just "second nature" or "muscle memory". We don't even think about it, we just do it. It simply "feels right" or "just makes sense". Even further, how we're relating and responding to someone/something isn't exactly wrong. There may not be anything in the Bible against it and actually, the Bible may even say we should do that thing. If it "feels right" and the Bible doesn't say anything against it (or even says I should do that thing) then everything is fine and this is how we should relate and respond, right?
Wrong. This is not the way of the Cross. Our union with Christ has achieved such a deep and incredible intimacy for us that it is actually wrong for us to just do things because they "feel right" or because they "just make sense". When we just do things like we've always done them, we are actually setting aside the gift of intimacy that Jesus won for us. What a travesty! Even if the Bible says its okay, it is not okay if it ignores our relationship with Christ. Without intimacy and relationship with Christ, it's just another form of religion. Gross...
This can be tough because it really challenges how you live your daily life and can shake things up dramatically. One example of this can be found in my marriage. I have realized that I am not to relate to Erin based on the fact that I love her. What!?!? Really!?!? Yes, really. You might say that's ridiculous, but hear me out. Love is great. You don't need to reiterate I Corinthians 13 to me, I know it and am all for it. And of course I agree with Ephesians 5. Please understand that what I'm saying doesn't mean that I love Erin any less or with any sort of diminished affection. It simply means that what Jesus did on the Cross has become the basis for how I relate and respond to my wife. Love is great, but to be honest, I don't always feel love. And while loving is the right thing to do and "just makes sense", I don't always do it. This is because as humans, our love changes and has varying degrees of intensity from time to time. Because of these changes, everything we do based on our love changes. Truth be told, there is a whole lot of power in love, but it is not enough. If it were enough, we wouldn't have divorces. But unfortunately, we do - even in the Church. However, when the Cross becomes the basis of my marriage to Erin then things no longer depend on how we feel. And if we can relate to each other based on BOTH of our deaths and resurrections with Christ then our feelings come under the truth of the Gospel and the power of the Gospel holds our marriage together. And you know what? I will end up loving Erin anyway! But it won't be mushy, sentimental "love". It'll be true, pure, powerful, sustaining love that transforms and strengthens our marriage. I don't know about you, but that's the kind of love I want!!!
As I have led worship these past few weeks, the Lord has challenged me to relate and respond to Him according to the Gospel. Truthfully when we relate and respond to Him according to anything other than the Gospel, He will not respond to us! That's scary to me! Because of this, we cannot afford to do things how we've always done them. We can't just simply look for what "feels good" or settle for what "just makes sense". This can be trying because we have heard things a certain way for so long and it feels good or "right" to do things the way that we know how. A great example of this is when things start to build and get louder during a part of a song. When this occurs, we're usually inclined to keep getting louder and louder and then go right into some sort of huge celebratory sound. In the past, this has been awesome and it can still be awesome today and in the future. But if we're doing it just because that's what "feels good" or "just makes sense", we're off. Do things always have to get louder? Is the culmination of a build up always a huge joyous celebratory sound where the drums are going wacko and I've got the distortion cranked to 10?
Another example of this occurred this past Sunday. We had been doing a certain chord progression for a while and things were getting quieter. I was thinking to myself, "Maybe we should end the song? Or maybe we should bring things down a little bit, get things sounding a little more 'worshipful'?" But when I looked in the spirit, all I saw was an angel dancing in celebration. I asked the Lord what it meant and He basically said to me, "This is what I'm doing". I quickly realized that what I was about to do wasn't what He was doing and decided I would do what He was doing, haha. I began to play my instrument differently and led the team accordingly and within a minute of that decision, Pastor Pete came up and began to encourage the congregation to celebrate. I was relieved that I took the time to see what the Lord was doing instead of just going with what I felt initially. The funny thing is, had we gone into a more "worshipful" mode, it probably wouldn't have been so bad. I'm sure people would've been able to enter into that. It might've felt good and right. But it wouldn't have been what the Lord was doing (and while there would've been plenty of grace for that, that's not what we're aiming for!).
I've shared this with you to encourage you to go deeper in your revelation of the Cross. I've shared this with you to challenge you to let the Gospel be the basis for how you relate and respond to others and to life. I've shared this with you so you can join me, Shelley, Pastor Pete and Pastor Lisa in relating and responding to God during worship at a whole new level. Ask the Lord to show you areas of your life where you have been responding according to your old nature or according to the world. Talk to the Holy Spirit about areas in your life or relationships where you may be doing things simply because they feel right or just make sense. As you dialogue with the Trinity, ask God to show you if there are any areas in worship where these same unhealthy dynamics are taking place. As you hear from the Lord, respond with the Gospel! Know that there is grace. Know that He has given us all we need for life and godliness (including being on the worship team!). Continue forward in the beautiful gift of intimacy He's won for us and step into what He's doing!
If you have any comments or feedback, I would love to hear back from you. If you have something that you feel would encourage the worship community, please share it with me and I would love to share it with everyone if that's what the Lord is working through. Thanks for your time and integrity. It's my honor to serve and work with you in His Kingdom.