What are we longing for as Christians?
Are we looking for the most hyped concert that has twelve of our favorite bands where we “worship” better than we do on Sundays because the songs may be popular and catchy?Because unlike those old southern gospel hymns led by a middle-age worship leader these songs make me “feel” like I’m actually worshipping.
Are we longing just to peak in our theology? To know all the right answers just to say we know them? Are we like body builders who only want to show off our oiled down theological biceps or do we desire to see our theology shape us in the endurance given to us by the Spirit? Have you seen a super-sized bodybuilder try to run a race especially the one’s Paul was referring to back in his day. Let alone have you seen one try to put deodorant on. (Hence why they have developed dry spray deodorant)
There always needs to be balance. Some people, even whole denominations fall on the side of desiring an experience. They want to see signs, healing, miraculous manifestations, and emotional driven songs. An experience basically. Then you have those who want to be puffed up with doctrinal jargon. These ransacked theologian wannabes like to name drop when asked a theological question instead of retrieving Scriptures from their heart.
As I think back to my college years their were people that would fall into two camps. (Experience-driven vs. Theology-mastered people)
Experience-driven church or person: believe that if they don’t “feel” anything then something is wrong with the ones leading whether in singing of songs, or preaching of the Word. They want lights, catchy effects, ambience, dark room which helps them worship better, and the pastor must shout, do a little dance, make them laugh, and altars must be flooded which equals success.
Theology-mastered: believe that the Word of God is good, but there is no need to make it relevant. Because if you do you may be playing the Holy Spirit. Also these type of people are the first to debate, overly post their theological camps material, and “are clanging cymbals.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 The churches that are mastered by theology are those who overlook their community, forsake evangelism, and are more than likely hyper-calvinistic. (I’m in no way saying a church or a Christian should not be in pursuit of knowing God as I’ll clear up later on.) I am taking the word “mastered” and using it the way Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything”
Do you need balancing in your life? Are you consumed by having knowledge that you miss out on practicing what is being preached? Are you jumping from one church to the other looking for the latest worship fad? You need balanced out by the Word of God. But sometimes we are so neck deep it takes a while to recover. But the Lord is patient with us and He will guide you to desire Him more than experience and more than the perfect study of Him. The Lord desires not that we “quarrel over lofty opinions.” (Romans 14:1) He doesn’t want us to put so much emphasis on experience or theology that we miss Him. In Micah 8:6 He tells us what He requires of us.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 8:6
This is what biblical Christianity is. Not experience, not theology, but walking with the Lord. Now walking with the Lord to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly involves knowing God. To know God is to develop a theology, but it doesn’t mean that we need to be so mastered by our theology that we find ourselves flat on our face. I’ve seen this happen in my own life. There is good in being balanced.
There are churches that are afraid to have the type of worship services that the experience driven person or church feeds on as their “meeting God” time. These churches are afraid to show emotion because it may cause embarrassment.
At Crosslife we are led by a worship leader who reads Scripture before he leads us in a couple of songs. He, like the past two worship leaders before him gave a little summary of why we sing the songs we do in worship. The theological depth of the songs we sing in our congregation should lead our worshippers to raise their hands to a God who is “seated on His throne” and “has washed away our sins” “who loved us first” “took on flesh to ransom us.” It is not mainly about raising hands, but confessing to each other the truths that our songs are filled up with. The truths we believe as a church. That is where theology and experience should be balanced out. I don’t have to have lights, fog machines, or even sound equipment to worship with my brothers and sisters. Also I don’t have to worship with people who agree with every little detail of my understanding of how God specifically saves someone, or when Christ is coming back.
If you are caught up in being an experience-driven person or church. Please repent. Turn to Jesus Christ who will satisfy you more than an experience that only causes you to hop from church to church.
If you are caught up in being a theology-mastered person or church. Please repent. Turn to Christ who is more satisfying than obtaining, or striving for a perfect theology. He is perfect, lovely, and worthy of more than just our knowledge of Him, but our love and obedience towards Him.
*image was taken from MBTS.