Pastor’s Letter May 2018
Luke 24:52 “Then they worshipped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple praising God”
Acts 17:22 “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject’.”
John 9:38 Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshipped him.
Have you thought about the resurrection of Jesus as a radical call to worship? The very last verse of Luke’s biography of Jesus has the disciples worshipping Jesus. This is an unheard of action for a Jewish person who has been raised with strict teaching about whom to worship and how to worship, nevertheless the reality of the resurrection demands it of them. Similarly disciple Thomas in John’s gospel moves from doubt to total belief when he encounters the risen Christ, ‘My Lord and my God!’ In Luke’s history of the early church (book of Acts) a common reaction to the news of the preaching of the resurrection is one of three things, commitment and worship, skepticism and deeper study, or rejection and opposition. The same three responses are evident today, inside and outside the church community whenever the resurrection story is told. Dallas Willard writes, “We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than the one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. The fashion of the age has identified mental sharpness with a pose, not with genuine intellectual method and character.” The opposition to the claim of the resurrection today in the west is seldom physical, but is rather conveyed through a subtle, emotional, demeaning skepticism.
“You see, the bodily resurrection of Jesus isn’t a take-it-or-leave-it thing, as though some Christians are welcome to believe it and others are welcome not to believe it. Take it away, and the whole picture is totally different. Take it away, and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring the problems of the material world. Take it away, and Sigmund Freud was probably right to say that Christianity is a wish-fulfillment religion. Take it away, and Friedrich Nietzsche was probably right to say that Christianity was a religion for wimps. Put it back, and you have a faith that can take on the postmodern world that looks to Marx, Freud and Nietzsche as its prophets, and you can beat them at their own game with the Easter news that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Bishop N. T. Wright.
Put it this way: if your idea of God, if your idea of the salvation offered in Christ, is vague or remote, your idea of worship will be fuzzy and directionless. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty of God, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together. The one isn’t just an intellectual exercise; the other isn’t just emotional reaction.
You will notice that none of what I have presented so far is about the style or method of public worship. Worship is always personal and sometimes corporate. It is not an event you attend, but rather a lifestyle you pursue. I love this definition of worship by a former Archbishop.
“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose, and all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.’ -William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury (1881-1944)”
The question before every true disciple of Jesus is ‘How will you worship the risen Christ?’ The response will be lived out in your home, your work, your marriage and your local Christian community gathered for teaching, fellowship and corporate worship.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives