Now vs. Then

I am at a very peculiar point in my stance on a worship issue at this point in my life. I am speaking on a very touchy issue. Some of you know of the debate between contemporary and traditional worship. I have been a victim to this aspect of Christianity ever since I was in middle school. I must say that it has not been until the last 2 years that both have left quite a bitter taste in my mouth. I can not see how Jesus meant this in getting the bigger picture. Is the good news of salvation singing songs that make me feel good or finding heaven in the here or the hereafter? Or is it somehow both?

I’ll start with the guys who I like to call the Nows. These guys are cool. They love to move forward and exlore the grounds that the previous generations have not tried. Not that they are new grounds, but that it has been abandoned due to various factors. I’ll consider myself partially a Now at the moment, because I see such great potential. They get it when it comes to creativity.

I love that.

Creativity…

Imagination…

Cleverness…

but should I include a little selfishness as well?

I use strong words on myself as a progressive type. I love some of the new songs towards God (the keyword here is some; a lot of popular Christian based music is quite a joke). Let’s face it though, we progressive get really selfish and disoriented sometimes. We have a tendency to demand feel good services. We also tend to abandon the point of religion, find reunion to God. You are probably asking, “Is not feeling ‘God’ true spirituality, or religion?” It depends. The Pharisees were great religious guys, even had some great aspects of there lives that we should follow, but their biggest hang up was there focus that they feel God instead of praising Him and experiencing Him. There is a huge difference between feeling something and experiencing something. Guys who are going to have a heart attack probably can feel healthy, but the truth is they are experiencing the path towards death. They have no experience of responsibility to do what they need to do, which is a very naive understanding of God.

So creative is good,

but selfish is bad.

We’ll get to the responsibilities later.

What about those old honkies I like to call the Thens. Represent some old school, will ya’. Thens are to Nows like Tupac and Biggy are to B.E.P. and Kanye. I love these guys, and at times I definitely have to call myself a traditionalist, or a Then. There are two kinds of these people. One is quite ancient and follows a solid liturgy, like Lutherans or Catholics. The others are American traditional. You know, the backwoods, country gospel piano, and maybe an organ if you’re lucky kind of people. And it is good. They experience God just as much as the Now people. And to be honest, they are sometimes smarter if they have been around for awhile. If they do what they are called to do, they can do it VERY EFFICIENTLY!

Solid,

grounded,

experienced,

wise.

And of course selfish like everyone else.

If your this kind of man, you’re yelling just as loudly as the first group, but here me out. I am talking about change. I am not saying that every young pup that thinks he gets it should bully you into changing, but you should try to give something new a try. You are not getting rid of God, your just changing your perception of Him. You have some much potential to be leaders in sharing this community of God. Teach us what sharing the experience of God is like.

Have your traditions,

and share the experience.

And everyone can dialogue about this. If a young person comes wanting to try something, give him your best offering of opportunity. But if someone cannot experience God in these new songs, then be understanding. Do not be the first to yell that they can leave if they don’t like. If paths are split, then split in goodwill, which is part of the idea of peace. If you created a service that is one or another, the only thing you should come with is openness towards God, with little concern of music, and that applies to both parties. If you blend, then you’ll need the openness to God even more, because there will be bigger disaggreements. If you created two separate services, then come with the same mentality, and find ways to connect the two. The worst thing to do is to create two services and then let it be a wall between two groups, that’s not the unity of the church. It is actually called division, and it is a sin, an opposition to God’s desire for His people.

One statistic that surprised me is the church that grew the most in recent years. While the majority of churches are on the decline, this denomination was on the rise. You might want to sit down for this one. You ready? The denomination that grew the most was the Eastern Orthodox. Now as you come back into conscious and realize the implications this has for worship, move further with me. I have heard of someone who said the reason she went there was that she experienced a service that expected God’s presence instead of just talking about God (the more surprising thingis that she used to be Methodist; sorry Hank.) But this has implications for the rest of us. We need to come ready to experience a loving yet powerful God. A God who cares deeper than any other about your life, but in doing so can wreck your current life to the extreme.

Better yet, think of the book of Acts. There are amazing stories in here, but the majority and most intriguing of them are people who lived the idea of the sabbath. The idea of the sabbath is that there is a separate existence that is set apart to show people how it can be, and that it does not have to be the way it is. Funny, sounds like the original intent of the Holiness movement (and that movement is in desperate need of a paint job).

As far as the two styles of worship are concerned…

NEITHER ARE INCARNATIONAL!!!

The only ones who come close are those uber-traditionals, like Catholics, or better yet, Eastern Orthodox.

God comes to people who need Him, not to music. A good aspect of God’s personality is that He comes to those who are in desperate need, hence, he comes to those who call to Him, and hurt itself causes the Spirit to cry and moan to God. This means that true sabbath living is meeting need. Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty puts it close to perfect by saying that if you want to see a miracle, then be the miracle. I like to say, if you want to reflect God as Jesus did, then be Jesus. Which means be more focused on relationship with God, people, and nature instead of being emotionally deranged by demanding that you feel good about yourself. Just because you are saved does not mean you have no responsibility. God secures your right, so that you can be focused on the acts down here. In other words, quit focusing so much on afterlife theology. God wants us to live here, He’ll come back and pick us up like He said, so be trusting in that and live out your faith here.

Love

be kind

lift others up

speak wholesome language

focus on God and not music

live incarnationally

LIVE OUT THE SABBATH MENTALITY

I’m going to end with my take on salvation. I am going to start with personal salvation. We are not saved by works, I’ll admit that up front. Salvation is God’s gift. We don’t earn that. But Jesus and even Paul were adamant about responsibility. It is a two sided coin. You are saved by God by Christ’s death. If you have accepted His forgiveness, then you are bound for the redeemed and united Heaven and Earth. But if you believe the God is a redeeming God, then you must reflect your master. Live with redemption in mind. In other words,

feed the hungry,

give to the needy,

shelter the homeless,

parent the orphan,

weep for the sad,

rejoice with the glad,

and never forget to LOVE EACH OTHER.

So drop the music card and get with the program. Jesus wanted us to get it, but in the end, do we really get it?

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