Posts tagged ‘simplicity’

Worship That Touches The Heart of God

Children. They don’t make things complicated. Either you are there for them, or not. They either like something or they don’t. When the love you, they love and trust you completely. And they say exactly what they are thinking….all the time….in front of company. But this honesty and simplicity is very attractive to God.
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus talked about children.
“And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Luke 18:15-17 NASB)
Jesus was attracted to the love and tender hearts of children, and commanded that we act that way toward his Kingdom. Not that we should be childish, but have child-like faith in Him. Should our worship of that same Jesus be any less simple and child-like?

Look, I am not out to point fingers and say people are wrong and I am right, or to condemn. But at the same time, please think about what I am about to say and see if it doesn’t ring true to what the Bible reveals about our God and Savior.

– A man who is proud of himself for being so spiritual, or a man who refuses to raise his eyes to heaven, but beats his chest saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”?

– A full Sunday morning production, complete with an awesome band, choir, lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system, or a group of first graders singing from their heart with everything they’ve got, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”?

– A multimillion dollar sanctuary with stadium seating, day care, bookstore, and a Starbucks, or the dimly lit basement of a house where believers are gathered in secret to quietly worship God and take the Lord’s Supper, praying that this day will not be their last?

– A crowd of 30,000 where someone can come and sing along, feel good about themselves, and yet remain comfortably anonymous, or a church of 130 believers whose lives have been knit together by the Word of God and their love for each other?

– A church that is embraced by the world and their community because they perform a public service and don’t offend people, or a church that preaches the truth, loves sinners enough to tell them the truth, and bears up under persecution and rejection because of that truth?

I hope you see my point. Somewhere along the way, worship became about what we liked, what made us feel good, and what attracted the world to our doors. But originally it was about what God likes, what was true, and what would really equip us, the entire congregation, for ministry. So let’s get back to the simple spiritual focus that we were originally given and “fix our eyes on Jesus” and not survey the world so we can effectively market ourselves, like the Gospel is a commodity for spiritual consumers. I know I have said this in a previous post, but in order to return to our first love, we must do the things that were done at first and live in the “simplicity of devotion to Christ” as His dear children (2 Corinthians 11:3) and say with our lips and our actions, “Jesus, it’s all about you. We are not here to be entertained or coddled. We are here to bless You, and nothing else in this world matters except what pleases You.”

Come on. Do it. Why did He call it being born again if we weren’t supposed to come to Him as a little child?


Return to Simplicity

Simplicity In Christ
There is something to be said for keeping things simple. It seems that with everything that we add, with every layer of complexity that feels like a good thing at the time, we give ourselves more opportunity for distraction. In the end, we can even end up focused on things other than what we started with. As with driving your car or running a race, we tend run to go in the direction we are looking. And as they said in West Texas, “if you don’t get off the road you’re on, you’re liable to end up where you’re headed!”
The same is true when it comes to the church and the things we do as the Body of Christ. Over the past two thousand years, many layers of “good ideas” and new programs have been added on by well intentioned people. As a result, the focus has shifted to things other than Christ. We have come to see those who attend as the audience, while those up front on the platform perform. Yes, the congregants sing along with the songs from the band, but most of what happens is designed to minister to us and bring in more people.
Many would be shocked to discover that Jesus didn’t say a thing about marketing the church. Or for that matter, about programs designed to provide what other churches don’t or can’t, in an effort to win over people like they are religious consumers and the church is a service provider in the marketplace.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB)
A call has gone out, and continues to go out. It says to strip away the programs, the marketing and everything else that has been added on, and return to simplicity of devotion to Christ! Let’s gather as a spiritual body and worship with only one person in the audience — Jesus Christ. Let’s focus on love and spurring one another on to good works. Let’s get rid of the marketing plans and draw people to Christ by lifting Him up instead of what we have to offer spiritual consumers!
It may be uncomfortable at first. After all, we have gotten used to some things that we like. But if we can get back to the basics, to the simplicity of devotion, we will be able to keep the main thing as the main thing. What does that look like?
Well, here are some examples of things that are add-ons. Let’s dump D.L. Moody’s invention called the “sinners prayer” and go back to having converts accept Christ and ask for His pardon the way they did in the First Century. It was and is called baptism. The concept of an unbaptized believer is foreign to the New Testament. Modern churches have someone say a prayer, wait awhile, and make their faith public by water baptism. But in the New Testament, baptism was the sinners prayer. It is an “appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21) and the way sinners “called upon the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16. While some will point to Romans 10:9-10, those verses have a context. Even the NIV Study Bible says they contain the early baptismal formula, required before one could be baptized like Paul had said earlier in Romans 6:3-11.
There were also no choirs or instruments for the first 700 years of the church, in large part because they wanted to avoid being like the world. Singing without a choir or instruments means we all must participate sing to one another, and worship the One who is our sole audience. It is not that instruments and choir are evil. I have been in and used both. But it is a distraction, and if we aspire to be like our original brethren, they just don’t fit the paradigm of simple Christianity.
Where can this simplicity be found? Well I can tell you where some are attempting to do it. It was the place I grew up in, left, and have come home to. I would encourage you to look for simplicity at one of the churches of Christ. I am part of a congregation that is striving to keep it simple, yet keep it in love. If you are in the Fox Cities area in Wisconsin, come on down to the Appleton church of Christ. We don’t believe in denominations because Christ is not divided, and denominations represent institutionalized division. We are just Christians worshipping and serving in simplicity.


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