Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Make a Difference?

I have been reading through 1 Corinthians in my daily quiet times. Having read it a number of times before, it's easy to pass over some of the incredible sections that Paul writes. Reading with highlighter in hand, I realized how many familiar verses were in the first few chapters. Ultimately, Paul scolds the church in Corinth for some of the things that they have been doing and some of their indiscretions. Anyone who has debated over supernatural gifts is most likely familiar with Paul's letter, especially the later chapters.

As I read through chapter 14 this morning, I read the following verses:

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

Regardless of your stance on the supernatural gifts, this is something that we really need to take to heart as we join together for corporate worship. We could get into a deep theological conversation regarding prophesy and what it entails, but the fact of the matter is that when we speak, sing, or pray from God's word, we are prophesying. God's word speaks and accomplishes its purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11). But when someone who does not yet trust in Christ comes into a corporate worship, according to Paul, what they experience there should draw them to Christ.

I recently read a book called "I Once Was Lost" by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. In the book, they talk about the five thresholds that people need to cross before they enter into a relationship with Christ. The five thresholds are: trusting a Christian, becoming curious, opening up to change, seeking after God, and Entering the kingdom. Generally, the first two thresholds are simpler, the third one could well be the biggest hurdle. I would imagine that anyone who sets foot in a church though has most likely crossed over thresholds one and two. So what would lead them to be open to change?

What leads any of us to be open to change? For me, I am mostly impacted by change when I see it in someone else; authentic and genuine transformation. No one wants to buy into something that seems fake or contrived. If people are going to put forth effort, they want to make sure that their efforts are not wasted. So many of us are like Thomas who encountered the risen Jesus, we don't want to only hear, we want to see, feel, and touch before we will really believe. Trust becomes more than just an assent of the will, but rather a multi-sensory experience.

Think about the times when you come together with other followers of Christ to corporately worship. If someone were to come into that place, would they see that change and transformation had really happened or what they be skeptical? Would they be so convinced that the change that they saw was real that they would have no choice but to say, "God is really among you" or would they walk out feeling as if they had encountered a bunch of fakes?

As a worship leader, I often wonder how it is that we can be so passionate about sports teams and yet when we gather to worship the God of the universe, we can barely muster a smile. I hear people say, "I'm just not an emotional person" but I really don't think that emotion has anything to do with it. Instead, it's more about gratefulness to me. Do we fully appreciate what has been accomplished on our behalf? Do we have a theology that is developed enough for us to realize that we are unable to accomplish what has been accomplished for us?

I don't know where you are in your faith journey, but wherever you are, I hope that the places where you go to fellowship with other followers of Christ are places where people worship in spirit and in truth. I hope that in those places, people would see that the songs that are sung, the prayers that are prayed, and the messages that are spoken are more than words, that they are a credo, a belief structure which people base their life on. I pray that anyone who comes to those places might see change that is real, genuine, and authentic, that results in changed lives, not just words that are idly spoken.