The sin of seriousness is very serious indeed. It is not only accepted, but those who take themselves seriously are often seen as saints. I’ve taken myself far too seriously for far too long, but God gave me a wake-up call this week. I’ve seen the path to God’s presence as a path of piety, and it most certainly is about being devout and taking God seriously. The problem with piety is that it can lead to a pious attitude of moralizing which can quickly become hypocrisy when seriousness is directed inward.
When simplicity in worship is replaced with self-centered seriousness, God is lost in the shuffle. Sweet silence and time in prayer is lost in activities which put personal agendas ahead of God’s. The first worship services took place in the homes of believers who shared communion and prayer together so they would not forget the cost of their salvation. Now, it’s difficult to see God in all the busyness church has become. Pastor John often talks about the difference between an organization and an organism when it comes to church. The body of Christ is an organism, but it so often resembles an organization or a club. Exclusivity is as big a problem as is trying to please everyone.
Reading God’s Word and praying together is at the heart of worship. Music is also important for me, but only when it complements and doesn’t drown out or draw my attention away from praying and hearing God. I love to hear beautiful music, but I also like to hear the sweet silence of God’s people turning their hearts toward Him in unison. As we took communion on Sunday, I found myself wanting silence in the moment which is a time of profound seriousness to me. I suppose my need for silence caused as big a distraction in my heart as the organ music did in my ears:) Inner silence doesn’t need outer silence, and I know the problem was in me.
When I find myself judging or criticizing, I know I’m heading into dangerous territory. God always gives me a very vivid reminder of my own humanity to remind me not to take myself so seriously and to give me a dose of humility which is the only antidote when piety turns into hypocrisy:) The good news is that the lesson was a funny one that gave me a chuckle. The lesson itself was a serious one that reminded me that the only things about myself I need to take seriously are my sins and the price Christ paid so I could be forgiven of them. I know that was at the heart of my angst during communion.
It’s easier to look for excuses in the form of music playing too loudly or not loudly enough, ministers who don’t say what I want to hear, uncomfortable seating, not enough activities, too many activities, and on and on when it comes to problems with my worship. The heart of my worship is my heart, so when I am uncomfortable, I need to look in it instead of elsewhere to find the source of the distraction. When I find it and take it seriously, then I can worship with an undivided heart as God desires. Love is about unity, and what doesn’t unite me to God and Christ’s body will surely divide more than just my attention.