Friday, April 13, 2007

"Consuming" Thoughts From Easter

This year I experienced difficulty planning our Easter experience at Hannaford. To me, Easter is a very special day in the Christian life - even overshadowing Christmas. Because of this, I put quite a bit of pressure on myself to help plan an experience that creates an atmosphere where people can meet with God - too much pressure, in fact.

In my planning this year, I elicited others' insights into Easter in order to find some fresh ways to communicate the resurrections message. While helpful, I was also troubled by some responses.

Several people said something to this effect: Easter just isn't Easter without singing such-in-such song or doing such-in-such activity. Quite immediately my response was "Easter isn't Easter without JESUS." Anything else is something we're attached to, personally.

To quote John Ortberg: Too often, people find a way to God, and beginning to worship that WAY more than they worship GOD. Jesus makes Easter! Anything more and anything less are traditions of man. I emplore you, please don't miss the significance of Easter because you are relying on man-made traditions!

The root of the issue is really the way we've begun to see worship. Worship is more than singing songs. Somehow, we think we've worshiped when we "feel good" about the song service. My question is "how does God feel?" Did you praise Him? Were you consumed by Him? Were you completely surrendered to Him? -OR- Did you feel uncomfortable clapping to the songs? Were you 'bothered' by the person who was holding their hands up? Did you even utter some words of praise to God?

Rick Warren nailed it when he said, "It's not about you." Worship is all about God. It is ABOUT Him and FOR Him. It is not about your being comfortable. As someone who's life desire is to see people meet with God, my job will NEVER be about making people comfortable. I continue to ask God to reveal to me how to help people become "consumed" by God instead of being "consumers" of worship.

Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement, presented some challenging thoughts on this subject nearly a year ago. Here a summary...

Worship is a simple act where I put my life in God's hands, and my life aligns to His plans. We realize that God is a consuming fire, and so something inside of us is hesitant to put ourselves in His hands because were not at all sure that we want to be swallowed up in His light and consumed by His fire. We would rather be a "consumer" of a pleasant worship experience, than to become a "consumee" - our lives consumed by Him.

So the question arises, "have we become 'consumers' of worship?" As a "consumer" of worship, we of become infatuated with the experience of worship instead experience of meeting God and being consumed by Him. Worship is supposed to be the place (or heart position) where we are consumed by God. Paul referred to this in 2Timothy 4:6 saying, "I’m being poured out like a drink offering." As a consumee, we say, "Here I am, God. Use me up. I’m putting my life in Your hands." Here is some comparison between the two approaches:
  • Consumers ask, "what’s in it for me?"
    Consumees say, "I’m in it for You."
  • For consumers, worship is about style.
    For consumees, worship is about surrender.
  • Consumers ask, "What can I buy?"
    Consumees say "I have been bought."
  • For consumers, worship is enjoyable.
    For consumees, worship is costly.
  • For consumers, worship is segmented.
    For consumees, worship is all of my life.
  • Consumers want worship to be trendy.
    Consumees see worship as eternal.
  • For consumers, worship is my choice.
    For consumees, worship is God’s will.
  • For consumers, worship is about me.
    For consumees, worship is all about Him.
How are you going to invest this short time on this planet in something that will not be fleeting and will not fade away? No one can stop you from putting your life in God’s hands. And, nothing can stop the power of God in your life.

I really appreciate these thoughts from Giglio. Being consumed by God in worship has less to do with being stirred up by the style, tempo, or even familiarity of the music – and more to do with experiencing God in worship and connecting with the life-change only Jesus can make.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being consumer and 10 being consumee) - where are you? Where is your church body as a whole? More importantly, what can you do to move toward the consumee mindset? I'd love to hear your responses...