Archives For worship
This past Sunday Don Vanderslice of Mosaic Austin visited us at Vox and shared this classic quote from a commencement speech that great American novelist David Foster Wallace gave before his suicide. DFW had uncovered the lies, and, I have to hope, found the truth. Think about what you’ll worship this week.
Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.
Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
It’s really that easy.
It may not fix all of your problems, but it’s a big step.
On Saturday I went with some friends to an underpass where we served up chili mac and fresh fruit to San Antonio’s homeless. My friend Daniel plugged in his guitar and we rocked out a bunch of old hymns and praise songs. The wind was blowing, making a 60 degree morning feel like 40.
The only person to sit by us was a withered Hispanic woman in her 40s or 50s. She only had about three teeth, but she had a great smile. She sang along, best she knew how, but soon gave that up to sing and dance. I have no doubt she was praising God.
All the cliches came true. Watching her dance made the problems of the last few months of my life look so small. Here I was, “leading worship,” but she was teaching me how to give myself over to God.
I really considered sleeping in yesterday. But it seems the best thing I could do, the only thing that could help with my problems was to get off my butt and serve.
Ever wonder what we sound like to outsiders?
EVERYTHING: furniture, lighting, projection, the band, your haircut, your Bible translation, will be evaluated by outsiders who visit your church. In order to reach our communities, we have to learn to be faithful to God, without sounding elitist, crazy or cheezy.