The Sin of Seriousness

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.

Seriously?

I went to a luncheon for senior adults today. Someone challenged me and asked what I was doing there because it was for seniors. I proudly told them my age much the same way I did when carded for buying alcohol in the early seventies. I am proud of my age and all the discounts that come with it:) I’m counting down excitedly the way I did at fourteen because I can’t wait to get Social Security! It’s even better than getting a driver’s license. Of course, I may not say that when my license is taken away for being too feeble to focus.

Being a senior is a serious matter to some, and I do notice that things are changing:) My body doesn’t move as fast as it once did, and my mind is like a cluttered desk much of the time; but I’m loving the freedom I have. ¬†Getting older means grandchildren, and I thank God for the privilege of being able to help with my sweet grandbabies. They keep me young, but I also feel my age after carrying Mylah or trying to keep up with Lillyann. What a joy those aches have become.

Retirement allows time to study and read and write, and I love doing all three.The learning over the past four years has been the most powerful to date. My head and my heart have been stretched beyond what I could have ever imagined as I delve into God’s Word in a way I cannot describe. Having the time and opportunity to do that makes getting older a blessing.

Falling into seriousness was the topic of the luncheon today, and Jack Hinson said it was the definition of sin according to the speaker at a lecture series he attended. He warned of the dangers of taking myself too seriously. The Baptist in me felt the need to repent as I’m very guilty of doing just that. Seriousness is important when it comes to a task, a job, or an appointment. I want my surgeon and my banker to be serious as they operate on my body or invest my money. I need to be serious about what I do, but not about who I am. There’s a big difference, and that’s where sin sneaks in.

It’s that pesky little self that gets in the way when it comes to seriousness. Self can always use a dose of silly, especially when hurt, angry, or weary. Laughter lets down my guard and lets in healing. It has been proven to be effective in the healing process, and there is even a branch of medicine called Humor Therapy. That doesn’t surprise me at all because I know I always feel better after a good belly laugh, and that sweet sigh that comes afterward releases tension like nothing else. I believe it is your body asking your self, “Seriously?:)” and self giving in and laughing along:)

I also know the opposite is true. When I cry, even for a little while, I am physically and emotionally spent. My head and heart ache, and I feel as though I’ve been wrung completely dry. There are different studies on crying. It can be a release and a relief, but it can also bring tension, sinus troubles, and stress. I think the difference must be if there is an end to suffering in sight. If there is none, the hurt gets worse. If there is, then crying gives relief. My head still hurts, so I suppose that’s not a good sign. It does help to have someone hear your heart and be a loving presence even if you know the hurt isn’t going away. A true friend offers a shoulder and feels your pain. I believe it is in the sharing that both laughter and crying offer healing.

I just can’t help myself when it comes to crying or laughing. Both are important release valves God put in place to help me deal with stress, and laughter gets rid of that serious little self that wreaks havoc on my heart and messes with my mind. I thank God for laughter and for tears. They remind me that I am human and that Christ shares the same flesh and knows the pain and joy that comes with it. That is a marvelous mystery that makes me mindful of the love that He expressed with His flesh. I am eternally grateful to have a Savior who laughed and cried just as I do. That changes the way I love and live my life.