Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Get in the Game!

I played little league baseball when I was a kid. I wasn’t very good. My coach frequently put me in the outfield because the ball would rarely be hit my direction (2nd graders have a hard time hitting for power). As a result, I got board. After a couple innings, I would pick grass, my nose, stare at the sky, whatever. Then, if the ball happened to be hit into the outfield, I was surprised – even shocked. 

One game my father noticed my meandering approach to America’s favorite pastime and pulled me aside. He said, “Tommy, you’re not paying attention. Get your head in the game. Assume the ball is going to be hit to you. Play baseball.” What my Dad was telling me is that my physical presence on the playing field did not make me a baseball player. I had to actually focus on the batter, anticipate the pitch, judge where the ball might be hit, et cetera. In order to play baseball, I had to actually play baseball.

On the topic of worship, 1st Chronicles shares a similar message: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness,” (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2). So like my little league story, Chronicles suggests that you have to do what worshipers do in order to be a worshiper. Simply being in the area of worship does not make you a worshiper. It asserts that ascribing God’s glory, bringing an offering, and coming before him makes a person a worshiper. This is because worship is an activity that the believer does, rather than an event the believer attends.

There have been times in the past that I’ve sat in a church building on Sunday morning, heard the songs being sung, watched the scripture being read, observed the sermon being preached, and noted the pastor praying. And, I can honestly say that I was not a worshiper. I was a passive bi-stander watching the Christian community around me worship. Jesus Christ was ascribed glory. Offerings were made. The Church approached Jesus collectively and delighted in His Spirit’s holiness. But, I had very little to do with it. 

I like to think that if my Dad observed that worship service, he would pull me aside. He’d say, “Tommy. You are not paying attention. Our God is awesome! Get your head in the game! Sing loud and proclaim His splendor. Focus on the scripture and take it to heart. Offer yourself to God. Expect to experience the splendor of His holiness. Worship!”

You see, worship is not something that happens by default because you attend one of our services. You do not worship by simply attending church. You worship by doing what worshipers do. You participate in the worship services. You prepare your heart for the worship services. You take an attitude/posture of worship. You sing the songs to declare God’s holiness. You recite scripture to declare and reflect on God’s good character. You open yourself (or offer yourself) to the preaching of God’s word in order to be transformed by its message.

None of us want to be shocked if God actually hits a spiritual line drive our direction. Right? We want to be pursuing God’s work in our lives, ready for His direction. Right? If so, get in the game. Be active and intentional about worshiping Jesus. Take responsibility for your devotional life. Don’t spiritually pick your nose while the game of the spiritual life swirls around you. There is too much at stake. Jesus Christ is alive and His Spirit is saving the world! Anticipate His saving work in your life and delight in it. Worship!

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