Finding the Sacred Everywhere
Can you meet God anywhere? Even in an uncomfortable setting – perhaps something different from what you grew up with?
Or, when visiting another church fellowship, are you so distracted and annoyed by the furniture, the different worship style, the theological differences on small, non-central issues, the way people dress, or the different leadership structure, that you don’t believe the Spirit and Truth of God can be present there, and you’re unable to meet him, and let him breathe through you in your worship?
If the church buildings and traditions were to collapse, who would still be the church, even if they couldn’t “attend” church at a beautiful building, in the “right” denomination, with all the normal, comfortable church supplies for the rites and processions on hand?
What is our solid rock – bricks and stones, or the chief corner stone?
Are you prepared to follow him to the death, when all the comforts are stripped away? The time is coming when those comforts will be taken from us, and the true worshipers of God and the counterfeit ones will be revealed.
To be strong enough to follow Christ – even to the death – we must have his Holy Spirit living inside us.
We know the Holy Spirit is working in us if we see changes taking place inside that we ourselves couldn’t have orchestrated or accomplished – if we see work being done and fruit being produced that we can’t honestly accredit to ourselves.
We know the Holy Spirit is living in us if we have the ability to worship God genuinely no matter where we are.
Division in the Body
The division within Christ’s body breaks his heart, and religion is good at perpetuating the division. Everyone has the “right” way, and everyone else is a heretic or an idiot.
If we are truly united with Christ’s Spirit, we will begin to converge in our unity and understanding of one another.
Division results because there are too many gods.
Because we don’t really have one God, but rather have as many idols as there are Christians.
We are those idols – our flesh, our pride, our comfort. We’re all more concerned with making our flesh comfortable in our own denominations and familiar church settings than with pleasing Christ by sacrificing our flesh to love and reach out to others – even if they worship Christ very differently.
If we are all worshiping Christ in spirit and in truth, then we aren’t really worshiping that differently, even if our styles are different.
Some people say that the truth of God is missing in certain Christian songs. And the same could be said of his Spirit. Sometimes we “worship” without really leaning into the Spirit – or worse, we quench Him and don’t allow him to flow through us.
But before you judge a song, ask yourself, is the truth actually missing, or is it just that there are fewer words in the songs, and therefore there’s by default “less truth”?
As in, there’s no heresy, and the few words included are theologically sound, but there’s just less doctrine?
Singing “I love you, Lord”, or “You are my Savior, Lover, and Friend” sounds pretty sound to me, even if it’s simple and more “feely”. It can still be worshipful and truthful. Christ is our Savior, he is our Bridegroom, and he is our Friend.
Just because a song isn’t packed with lots of Biblical doctrine doesn’t mean it can’t reflect the heart of God, or be a sweet prayer to him, or draw us closer into his presence.
As long as the song is actually focusing on God and not worshiping the flesh, the world, or the enemy, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a doctrine-heavy hymn or a highly relational prayer.
We need to realize that our personalities – our fleshly differences – influence our preferences in Christian worship a lot (just as personality tends to influence political leanings significantly).
We need to realize that we don’t have the whole picture of the elephant. We see the Truth, but we don’t see all of Him necessarily. Christians within other denominations may be more in touch with a different attribute or part of God to which we tend to be more blind. We have something to learn from them.
As long as we’re more concerned with ideas of “how church should be done” than with unity in the body of Christ, we’re worshiping ourselves more than God. We have a god before Him.
There are times when we must call our brothers and sisters out on heresy or dangerous doctrine or practice, but those times are fewer than we think.
We must ask God for discernment to see the difference between danger and personal discomfort or disagreement.
My uncle brought up a great illustration the other day. He said – in reference to the differences and divisions within the body – it’s like the Bride of Christ is still fussing over her wedding dress – trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. But the Bridegroom is coming. You’d better get dressed, I’m almost here.
Spread the Fire
I used to visit churches asking “What can I get?”
I’ve gradually discovered it’s much easier to find a congregation that works for you when you ask, “What can I bring?” (realizing that you have nothing to bring but that which the Holy Spirit gives you).
Bring yourself, and worship God in Spirit and in truth. Bring the Spirit wherever you go, and you will always meet God, regardless of whether the others around you are meeting him or not.
The Holy Spirit is a fire. He spreads – enriching those who are born of him, and consuming the flesh, which is perishing.
Bring a heart of worship with you wherever you go. Bring the love, truth, and Spirit of God everywhere, and you’ll be able to worship practically anywhere.
Do you worship God in spirit and truth?
If so, then throughout your life, he will begin to become all that truly defines you.
Things destined to perish – including religion – will no longer be your source of strength, significance, or security.
If we have been washed anew with the Spirit, then fresh, real fruit will emerge. Not because we strive to produce the fruit, but because we surrender and let the water of the Holy Spirit nourish and move us.
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.
Corrie ten Boom
Many religious people attempt to accomplish and achieve all these different “virtues” or “morals” in their own strength.
When you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, these virtues and morals begin to flow out – without the effort or power of your flesh. The virtues and morals all begin to seem less compartmentalized. Less of something you actually think yourself capable of pursuing.
When the Holy Spirit is working through us, we begin to think less and less of which moral “compartments” we are satisfying, and more to see them all blend together into one virtue: the righteousness of Christ, that comes from the Holy Spirit.
A Few Words About Fire
Be warned. Fire scares some people.
Fire is unpredictable. You don’t know which way it will go. You don’t know where God will lead you if you listen to his Spirit.
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
But we can rest in knowing that wherever he leads us will be in harmony with his truth and nature.
If you’re walking in the Spirit, you’re going to be pulled out of your comfort zone.
If you’re walking in the Spirit, people are going to think you’re weird.
You don’t know what God will ask you to do, if you listen to his voice.
One thing I’ve often found though is that the things the Spirit moves me to do are often hard, sometimes radical, but I always have peace about them.
Things the Spirit has likely not called me to do are sometimes ideas I’ve arrived at on my own intellectual reasoning, and/or they involve too much of me. Too much fleshly honor, pride, personal glory. “I’m going to ‘be somebody’ (apart from Christ)” or “I’m going to save the day.”
Talk to God – even talk to him out loud! Find a quiet place where you can confide in him boldly – as you would in any friend. Listen for His voice.
Ask him for clear confirmation – for complete peace or lack of peace.
If you have his Spirit, he’ll give you that clarity, in his time and his way.
Sit before the Lord.
Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far? – 1 Chronicles 17:16
God does speak – even today – not only through his written word, but through The Word which lives in our hearts.
The question is, are we willing to listen?