Making Visible The Kingdom Through Convergence

We Are Continuously Outpouring – Preparing for Grounded & Settled 2012

This week I once again have the opportunity to serve as Worship Leader for the annual Grounded & Settled Youth Retreat held at Marist Brothers Retreat House in Esopus NY.  I always enjoy the challenge of worshipping with youth.  On the one hand I want to connect with them and call them into worship as a community knowing that every year I venture ever farther from understanding and remembering what life was like from ages 14-19.  Given the rate of technological change I might as well have known Abe Lincoln personally.  So I do the best I can to connect with music that is relevant to them; music that will excite them.  At the same time I want them to know that it’s not about them, not about me, and not about the style of music.  Indeed I asked myself recently “is it possible to connect with youth apart from all the things that we normally consider necessities for modern worship?”

I desperately want them to know that we were NOT created to worship. We were NOT created for worship. God in the Trinity is complete and needs nothing outside himself.  We were created continuously outpouring – we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago Dei! Worship is not merely an aspect of our being, but th essence of our being God’s image bearers – ALL life is ceaseless worship. We were created continuously outpouring and that means all that we are, all that we do, and all that we can ever become in the light of the resurrected Christ.

As humans we love and delight in focusing on ourselves.  What will I get out of this?  What will this do for me?  How does this make me feel?  This entire line of thinking – this way that we tend to orient ourselves is contrary to the design of God and it leads not to the gates of heaven but to the darkness of hell.

“The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis

It’s so tragic and harmful that much of what we in the West consider “worship” is really self-help psychology wrapped in song with a chorus of “Make Me Comfortable Lord – Make Me Comfortable!”  Singing songs of praise can in fact make us feel better – that’s a byproduct of focusing not on ourselves but on the character, virtue, reality, and truth of who God is and what he has done.

We’re also NOT singing songs because God needs to be reminded how wonderful he is; he’s not insecure and doesn’t need our affirmation.  Again, God is complete an needs nothing outside himself.  We sing to participate in the worship of Heaven. We praise and declare His glory and participate in making visible His Kingdom. Praise is one our weapons for warfare and the kingdom of darkness shudders when God is glorified, when His Kingdom is declared, and his people proclaim the victory won at the Cross. Remember that victory was established at the Cross!  It’s not about who you are or what you do; rather, it is about who Christ is and what He has done!  May we make visible His Kingdom this weekend, may the chains of sin & bondage be broken, may the captives be set free, may they be given eyes to see and ears to hear!  Victory – Victory – Victory!

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