Thursday, November 19, 2015

CP 258 A different worship 15/11/15

CP 258 Retread series …NO 1
Worship on a Sunday evening November 15 2015
So there we were, having laid down the formal call to Ministry a couple of weeks ago, and wanting to ‘go to church’ somewhere. Having let other things detain us on Sunday morning we went instead to an evening service at a local church here in Campbelltown. There are a couple of things I’ll tell you about that service. The first is that the music was so loud and bass-based that I could feel it reverberating through my insides. I’ve been in a few of the louder churches in my time but this was a revelation. I was all shook up. I’ve been racking my brains but can’t remember a single word of what we sang. And I’m still young enough to want to hear myself sing!
Second thing was the preaching. He was a guest preacher and was billed by the worship leader as ‘awesome’. He told us himself that he was fired up for this service. His text was 2 Chronicles 15. He could just as effectively picked Deuteronomy 28 where Moses, having given (humanly speaking) the law of God to Israel, proclaimed to the Israelites the blessings that would come for obedience and the curses which would come upon them for disobedience. 
2 Chronicles 15 is about Asa, King of Judah. I won’t bore you with the details of the exact words of the preacher but will share with you the gist of what he put out there. ‘’If you do this (good thing), God will do that (good thing) for you.” A variant of that was, “Because you do such and such (good or bad things)… then God in turn, will do such and such (good or bad things) to you.” This was classic law-based theology which cuts both ways. Blessings if you obey, curses if you disobey… Your behaviour will draw an appropriate response from God. I have no recollection of whether he at any point mentioned Jesus Christ. Certainly there was not a skerrick of an indication that there is a heavenly Father. Certainly I heard zip about repentance, faith or the Cross. He spent the entire 30 minutes exhorting us to the behaviours which would gain God’s blessing.
I wondered whether he had ever come to terms with the guts of Paul the Apostle’s teaching. Let me give you just one example:
 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. (Romans 8:3)
Do you get that? What the law was powerless to do… God did!
Yes, it was challenging preaching. It was spirited. A Rabbi could have preached it with equal vigour and approval. But it was not Jesus Christ-based gospel-grace-forgiveness-Holy Spirit preaching.
I have a book in my now packed up library entitled, ‘Forever ruined for the ordinary.’ It is what happens when you ‘get’ the gospel, or rather what happens when the gospel ‘gets’ you, when Jesus the Christ is revealed to you as your Saviour and Lord. Every time I sit in a pew my ear is cocked to hear the gospel. I couldn’t bear it if the ‘bread’ served up to me each week for the rest of my life was what I got on Sunday… dry, unpalatable throat-choking stuff being passed off as bread. I’m so over ‘God’ theology.
Still, I’m a sucker. I’ve set myself the challenge of digesting and responding to whatever I hear, whenever I hear it, in worship for the first year of this new phase of my life. Given that Rosemarie and I will be circumcising Australia in 2016 it might be an interesting exercise. I’ll keep you posted.

Forgive my arrogance Lord.

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