Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Welcome To the Show

This morning as I lay in bed, I began thinking about how differently my faith expresses itself these days. Whereas I once thought that faith had to be expressed with great fanfare and exuberance, I know see that for what it was…a show.

Let me explain.

I bought into the Pentecostal tradition that said you couldn’t “have church” without tongues, loud singing and other demonstrative acts of faith. Some churches in that tradition took it a step too far and encouraged crazy activities like snake handling. For the record, I never attended a church that had snakes or encouraged this insane behavior. But the churches I attended DID place a heavy emphasis on the demonstration, whether it was speaking and/or singing in tongues, shouting, dancing or wailing. The point was, you couldn’t truly expect to get God’s attention without a showy presentation.

In modern charismatic churches, and even some mainline ones, this show takes on the form of a pop music concert. You have polished musicians, some of them hired for a fee, performing radio-worthy tunes on a stage before a large audience. This is meant to get the people worked up emotionally, so that they’ll walk away with a sense that they experienced something spiritual.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that it is all superficial and emotional. Some of these people, myself among them, were genuine in their show of emotion. I thought that it was the proper way to express my love for God. I mean, what else was I created for if it wasn’t to put on a show for God? Didn’t Jesus warn that the rocks would cry out if I kept silent?

This morning, I actually began considering the practicality of that kind of “worship.” If God were to reveal Himself as say…my wife, would I constantly serenade her and make a big emotional show of my love for her? I mean, she is the person I’m supposed to love most in the world, but I don’t make a big show of it.

My point is, love has to be demonstrated…just not in the flashy ways we often think make the most impact. Haven’t you heard it said, “Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference?” Didn’t Jesus say, “I was thirsty and you gave me drink?” That’s a little thing, isn’t it?

I can demonstrate my love for my wife by cleaning the bathroom. That simple act of service tells her that I care about the things she cares about. Likewise, I can do the same for God. If I take my favorite wool blanket to a homeless man out in the cold, then I’m showing God that I care about the people He cares about. And Jesus even took that a step further. He said that by helping someone in need, I am actually helping Him! Isn’t that a much truer, more practical, more God-centered form of worship?


Christine said...

The funny thing is, I was sitting here going, "does it have to be my FAVORITE blanket that I give to the homeless guy? I can't afford to buy another one, and sometimes they just don't carry them in the store, anymore...."

But then, I remembered that when I was in a really bad wreck, far from home, a woman I didn't know, who didn't know me, put her gorgeous, incredibly soft blanket on me as I was bleeding.

She didn't stop to think about AIDS or about ruining her blanket, she just wanted to comfort me when I crawled out of the wreckage and it turned out that I was still alive, after all.

It really was the softest blanket I'd ever felt, and I was amazingly comforted by it. I still bless her for her small but valuable kindness, all these years later.

nolesrock said...

cool...thanks christine

i think we begin relegating this kind of truth to cutesy stories like the good samaritan in vacation bible school, so kids don't grow up sensing the spiritual depth of righteous acts like the one you described (or the good samaritan's story for that matter).