Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reflections on "Engaging With God" by David Peterson

Engaging with God was a bit of a struggle for me. It was thick in places and revealed some deep issues I have been harboring for quite some time. Honestly, it was a bit scary coming to terms with this issues that have been stored up in my heart. But now on the other end, I feel like my heart has been set free!

For such a long time I have been frustrated with the Church especially when it comes to the mainstream “consumer” idea of corporate worship. My biggest beef with the church was that they were doing worship all wrong. The quote on page 188 really put my thoughts and feelings into a statement: “…Indeed, congregational worship in some contexts can be like a narcotic trip into another world to escape the ethical responsibilities of living a Christian life in this world.

Now, there wouldn’t be an IWS if there wasn’t something wrong in the world of Christian worship. However, I came to realize that I don’t have to have worship “figured out enough” for God to work and be glorified – I can only come to worship through Jesus, whose worship is perfect, anyway! According to Peterson, worship is living a life of service to God in our everyday lives. With that in mind I shouldn’t go to church to “go to worship.” If worship is supposed to be as normal as each breath I take, corporate gatherings need to be something more: “…If the focus of the meeting is on the edification of the church, this should enable God’s people individually to engage with Him afresh and to offer themselves to him in the way that he requires and himself makes possible through the Holy Spirit.” Pg. 220.

According to Peterson, corporate gatherings need to focus on the edification of the church: encouraging each other for the glory of God! We are one body, and when we gather, the body can rest and take nourishment and acknowledge of our purpose in something greater – that we are instruments in the story of God’s love for the world.

My take away from Engaging with God, and what I learned to be an essential to worship, is this: We gather corporately for the purpose of edification – in the world (as temples where heaven and earth meet. Oh, I just love that imagery!) we are meant to individually pursue and further God’s story – since we aren’t meant to only live as individuals, we come back to our corporate community to build each other up for the glory of the Lord! I guess to sum it up: Engaging with God taught me that worship is beautifully vertical, horizontal and circular with no specific beginning and with absolutely no end! Worship is a communal engagement with God at all angles!

How does this fit with the first part of my story; my beef with the church? I realized that God is served when we serve each other. Yes, if we institute four-fold structure, we may be able to engage with God at a deeper level, but if that isn’t happening I shouldn’t be mad about it, or mad at the person who is leading. That isn’t very edifying. In Christ, I worship God with every move I make. Seeing this, I know that I can transcend my likes and dislikes in a corporate setting and serve my brothers and sisters. This is what God wants – the worship isn’t the service, but this service is the worship.