Chapter 10 – Uncomfortable Worship

From the book: “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community” by Brett McCracken

“Because believers are so conditioned by comfort-idolatry and personal-preference individualism that is the twenty-first-century air they breathe, worship can be a struggle.” (p. 145)

We are so used to and spoiled by the Burger King approach to life: “Have it your way!

Toyota promises we can have whatever we want: “You asked for it, you got it, Toyota!

In today’s culture, there is “my truth” and “your truth”: “Family Guy – ‘I painted my truth.’

Unfortunately, we tend to bring this attitude and way of life to church with us. We want the music we want. We want the volume level to be just how we like it. We want the sermon length to be just right for us. (We need to beat the others to the Sunday buffet.) We either want a liturgy or we don’t want a liturgy. Why do we have to greet one another? We want the prayer to be longer and more inclusive. We want the prayer to be brief and to the point.

Consider the Pharisees challenge to Jesus about how His disciples’ practices broke with religious tradition in Mark 7:1-8. Looking at Jewish culture and customs of the time, one finds out that it is most probable that Jesus and all his disciples did wash their hands before eating, but that they did not rigidly follow the normal Jewish custom on how to do it. 

Do you insist everyone worships the way you prefer to worship? Are you willing to participate in the services in ways that are not necessarily your preference?

Who are you worshipping anyway, God or yourself? Why are you even at the church service? Are you at services to be entertained? Are you there for your personal spiritual growth only, or are you there also for relationships with others and their spiritual growth?

“Putting aside personal preferences and embracing common, unified, God-centric worship, however uncomfortable it may be, is part of what it means to follow Jesus together.” (p. 146)

What happens if, rather than just quietly grumbling to yourself, you just wholeheartedly participate with the others? Is it possible that you could learn to appreciate these practices as others seemingly do?

“Committing to showing up and being present and open-hearted in worship is the important thing.”

This is how you direct your worship toward God rather than yourself. Being open allows the Holy Spirit to work on you in ways that you could never imagine. You might growing spiritually despite yourself. Are you willing to risk that?

This is the advice the Apostle Paul gave to the Ephesian church.

“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18b-21, ESV)

“The vitality of a church’s worship depends on members of the body submitting their autonomous freedom and opinionated preferences to the larger community, and ultimately to the Lord.” (p. 153)

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