Jul 21 2019 - Examples of Ways the World influences our Worship of God
28th July 2019
A couple weeks ago we were talking about inappropriate mixing of our worship of God with the world’s ways. We were talking about Solomon when he offered sacrifices on the high places in Gibeon. Those were places where the Canaanites would offer sacrifices to their gods. On those altars, they would offer their sacrifices to their gods. Moses was told, very specifically – you must not offer sacrifices to Me on the high places – the places where the people of the land have offered their sacrifices – it is strictly forbidden to do so. In doing that, they were mixing the practices of the world in their worship of God. But God had told them that there was to be one place – in the tent of meeting – in the land of Canaan – in Shiloh, until the time of David – it was to then be in Jerusalem.
In time, after entering the land, Israel forgot or ignored the command.
As we look at Solomon, at first, it seemed to be an ignorant thing that was done – innocent, in a way, but it led to full-blown idolatry. The first time, he wasn’t worshiping other gods, but by the end, he was. This brought significant judgment on the people of Israel and eventually were taken into exile as captives and slaves. That is what it means to mix the practice of the world in our worship of God/Yahweh.
“Mike – when you throw out these statements such as the mixing of the world, give examples, thanks!”
I failed to do that at first – so I want to better do that today.
“What would a church look like if we were truly a church of the poor, the outsider, and the other – rather than FOR the poor?”
Instead of mixing our practices – how do we become an alternative community in our culture – different – in every arena, God wants us to be moving in that direction.
Out of my experience – here are some examples.
I have been a pastor for – probably too many years, really – since the mid-80s – and a movement went through the Church – concerned about the gospel and bringing people to Christ. This movement was focused on making the church more relevant to the world. There was this feeling that the church had gotten out of touch with the world they were trying to minister to – fewer and fewer were attending church, so the churches started gearing toward the culture – reaching out to unchurched people – so that people who were far from God could be drawn in. Seeker-oriented churches – and there was good stuff that came out of that. Some of these churches grew and became huge!
The church should not be out of touch with the people they are serving and reaching!
Every church is culturally relevant. The issue is, at what time period?! Some churches are culturally relevant to the 1920s!
That’s not bad either, but looking back now, there was a problem – and it was a belief, unspoken and under the surface – “If we could make the church cool – relevant – people would run to Jesus. Especially young people. And when we believed that – we were mixing the practices of the world with our worship of Jesus. When we depend on anything of that nature – cool music, coffee, dress, buildings – There is nothing wrong with cool coffee – it is better to have good coffee than bad coffee – but when that stuff becomes the primary focus of the church and we begin trusting in strategy and method, then we have a problem
We went through Experiencing God – and in Henry Blackaby’s time – it was bus ministry! They would bring in piles of kids to Sunday school! And others would try it and it would fail. Blackaby’s reply – IT never works – God works. When we do this, we are mixing the practices of the world with our worship of God.
Willowcreek was one of the first – and they did a survey – about 10 years ago – and it turns out that they were not making disciples. They decided to alter what they were doing.
Your citizenship is not here – it is in heaven. In Philippi they were so proud of their Roman citizenship – but Paul was reminding them that they were citizens of heaven.
The reason we must be a countercultural community is because we ARE! We live HERE – as aliens and strangers – belonging to someplace else – Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world.
Then He says this: and this is example 2 – another high place deal….
In no way alarmed by your opponents…
We live in a culture that is filled with alarmists! I mean, phew! Turn on any media site everywhere! Conspiracy theorists – 11% of millennials don’t believe we ever walked on the moon. And one older guy – just kidding – I saw it on television.
This alarmist attitude has entered every arena – including Christianity – and it creates an atmosphere of antagonism and strife – it pervades every aspect of our lives. And what that has done – it causes Christians to live in silos and echo chambers – hanging out only with people who think like them.
80% of Christians/people? Don’t have a friend who is of the other party.
There is a study I read – War on Tribes – this study around the world – the polarization of our world – and not just here – our son lives in Europe and he said it is worse there. So much of it has to do with dividing into these silos – We are called to have speech and conduct worthy of the gospel.
Antagonism is about categorizing people. It is what we do. We turn people we disagree with into an enemy – an enemy that needs to be conquered rather than people we need to work with and talk to. Then we make people sub-human – less of the image of God than we are.
Pharisees – why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners – making these less than the image of God,
Another example – my story – again…
I became a Christian in 1976 – and 1980 was my first opportunity to vote.
Jimmy Carter made the term “Born Again” in the public arena. Then there was evangelicalism – Abortion was an enormous issue…
And many good things came out of this – because Christians realized that they should be engaged in the political process – as citizens of heaven and citizens of this earth –
THE PROBLEM – once again – there was this belief that if a certain person got elected, and he appointed better supreme court justices, that America would turn back to God and the church. I was there. I was at these big rallies – and they were singing Christian songs – but in reality – looking back – we were trusting in an election to do God’s work. And that is the mixing of the world with the worship of God.
Reagan got elected and appointed justices and he did many good things – but you know what didn’t happen? People did NOT flock back to church and God like we had hoped.
The great decline – 60 years of religion in America…
If we think that anything depends on a political election – we have made that a high place.
1952-1962 – the largest percentage of church attendance took place.
10 years before and 10 years after the revolutionary war.
When we think of how everything is going in the world – it has happened in cycles
It might be like the lull before the tsunami wave – we may be living in that moment – or it might be 100 years from now – but God wants us to be faithful in this moment. This is the place and time God has placed us.
This cultural moment – Podcast by guys 0- one is a Christian cultural historian – how we got to where we are today – it is fascinating -
So, what does it look like to live like an alternative community today?
2 Tim. 2:23 – A huge part is how we are going to address the controversial social and political environment – And the Lords servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone.
If all of God’s servants followed this verse – we would be an alternative community –
Correcting his opponents with gentleness. If everyone did that –
It is critical to engage IN the debate – and these issues in our culture – but it is more critical that we do it as it is laid out in the New Testament.
Gentle does not mean weak. It is not a personality type – it is not about how loud your voice is – considerate, strength that accommodates others. To engage the debate with that character quality – standing for the truth – (We think we have to be loud and forceful to stand for the truth – but Jesus stood for the truth more than anyone!)
We have to learn that – uncompromising.
In our world, where the goal is to get hits or retweets – gentle correction is a failure.
Not quarrelsome – kind to everyone – but engaged.