The form of our worship, should it matter?

I found the following comments on Leviticus 6-7 helpful:

Jesus said that God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. And it has become commonplace to contrast spirit and form as if they were incompatible in worship. “The letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life” is a text that out of context (2 Cor 3:6) can be used to justify slapdash leading of services and other Christian activities. Spontaneity and lack of preparation is equated with spirituality. Lev. 6-7 denies this: care and attention to detail are indispensable to the conduct of divine worship. God is more important, more distinguished, worthy of more respect than any man; therefore we should follow his injunctions to the letter, if we respect him.

A glance at the performing arts dispels the illusion that a great and spirited performance can be achieved without practice and attention to detail. Indeed great actors and musicians spend hours studying and rehearsing the works they are to perform, so that they can recapture the spirit of the author and convey it in their performance. Audiences expect performers to aim at perfection in the concert hall. Worship is also a performance, a performance in honor of almighty God. As no orchestra can give of its best without a competent conductor and meticulous rehearsal, so no congregation is likely to worship our holy God in a worthy manner without careful direction by a well-instructed minister.

Gordon J. Wenham, Commentary on Leviticus.

Are we suffering for the right reasons?

When we lived in Cardiff, I worked with a guy claiming to be a Christian. We”ll call him Bob.

Bob was a nice guy, but he talked a lot. He talked a lot about himself and some of the strange situations he had faced. He talked about God protecting him through angels, throwing others away, or restraining them from hurting him. Maybe it was true, maybe it was just his imagination at work. I don’t know.I suppose it was his way to glorify God. But the problem with Bob is that he was arrogant. He was also a bit lazy. After a while, people started avoiding him. He ran into troubles with our supervisor because he was always talking, and hardly working. I think he honestly thought he was being persecuted because of his faith. But really, he was paying for his own foolishness and lack of wisdom. He talked so much about himself that he never spoke about the gospel. Others had to do his work because he was talking instead of working. In the end, he was disciplined for his behavior and sacked. I was sad for him.

Over the last few weeks, I have read through 1 Peter several times. Peter talks a lot about suffering. The people he was writing to were going through serious trials. Peter writes to them insisting that their lives should be without reproach in the eyes of the world. They must be exemplary citizens, wives, husbands, workers. They must make sure that if they are persecuted, it is not because of their foolish behaviour, but because of their faith. I am certain that one of the reasons why Peter thought it was necessary to write to them was that a few christians were persecuted for the wrong reasons.

There is no doubt that many believers today suffer for their faith in Christ. But I wonder how many professing christians in the West are suffering for the wrong reasons. How many times have we brought troubles upon ourselves not because of our faith, but because we have been foolish? I wonder…

How far will you go to learn Ongota ? Or Welsh, or Breton.

J.D. Payne, in a recent article challenges us to ask ourselves how far we are ready to go to reach a minority people with the gospel. The article is worth a read, see the link below.

Ongota is one of the world’s rarest languages. Only twelve people speak it. I doubt you will ever need to learn it.

But if you needed to for gospel advancement, would you? Would you truly put out the effort and make the sacrifice–for only twelve people?

J. D Payne How far will we go learn Ongota?

Even before we first moved to Brittany, I knew that I wanted to learn some Breton language. Living several years in Wales and marrying a Welsh girl was certainly an incentive. I had also learned Welsh, and it couldn’t be that difficult to learn some Breton.

Yet, when we got there, the local Christians were less than keen. Some thought the idea was weird. Many laughed at the idea. Apart from the fact that the majority of Christians in Brittany are not from Brittany, even those Christians who spoke Breton were fairly negative about the idea. The Breton language was on its death-bed. Everyone spoke French anyway, why bother.

Yet, the conviction remained. Even if I would never speak fluently, I was convinced that showing an interest in the people of Brittany and their language would open some doors to the gospel, and it did. After three years, I had made a group of friends and the door was wide open. I had many opportunities to share the gospel, because I had taken the time to learn some of the language and tried to understand the Breton people.

It is just sad that, as far as I am aware, hardly any-one in France seem to see the importance of showing at least some interest in the various local languages, especially those with a significant number of speakers like Breton, Alsatian or Basque.

When the Scriptures are at work.

We often read Scriptures casually, out of habit, or at least I do. It doesn’t seem to have much impact. It doesn’t feel relevant. We know the stories but don’t really take time to meditate on their meaning. At this stage, many give up and stop reading altogether. What is the point?

But sometimes, when we take time to meditate, and make an effort to reflect on the Scriptures, we can really feel the impact of the Word on our life and thoughts.

Over the last few weeks, the book of Habakuk has been working in my mind and heart. I have read and re-read it several times. I have looked into commentaries, and it has been working on my mind day and night.

Hababkuk is perplex. He doesn’t understand God’s ways. He doesn’t that God would not answer his prayers about unrepentant Israël. But When God answer, he questions his method for judging Israël. His experience of God doesn’t seem to reflect what he knows. Many people today would have given up by now. But Habakuk was a man of faith. he waited patiently and God answered: “the just shall live by faith”. At the end of a long struggle, Hababkuk gets it. I’ll let you read the book to find out the answer. It will take about 10 minutes of your time.

I am slowly getting the message of Habakuk. But it is a painful process.

What about you. Is the Word at work within you?