Saturday, July 16, 2011

You Become Like What You Worship

In Eldoret, Kenya - I've sent the Kenyan & Ugandan
pastors out to pray for one hour.

In the church in Corinth of the first century, the group of Greek Jesus-followers Paul writes his two letters to, there is much imbalance and disproportionality in their corporate worship gatherings. Some of them are really taken by the non-rational or trans-rational gift of singing and speaking in tongues. So much so that they are showing off their giftedness, and others are feeling and being excluded. It's impossible to give a true "Amen" to something you don't understand. For example, consider this: Kwa maana Mungu aliupenda ulimwengu kiasi cha kumtoa Mwanae pekee, ili kila mtu amwaminiye asipotee, bali awe na uzima wa milele.* Anyone want to give an "Amen!" to that?

Paul tells the Corinthians that he didn't come to them speaking in tongues, even though he does and thanks God for the gift. Instead, Paul brought a lot of intelligible words. Paul engaged in trans-rational worship privately, and in rational worship publicly. He's very glad to do both. And, because the object of Paul's worship is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it's intended to be a very broad, very deep, very rich encounter and experience.

God, in His being, is not simply a "rational agent." For example, God is love. And "love," as all true lovers know, cannot be explicated and captured in the steel nets of logical discourse. Only Leonard Nimoy ("Spock") could worship such a god.

I love the way N.T. Wright puts this. “One of the most basic laws of the spiritual life is that you become like what you worship; and if you are worshiping the true God, the creator of all things, the one in whose image you are made, you should be developing as a wise, many-sided human being, not letting one aspect get out of proportion as though God were only interested in the ‘spiritual’ side, meaning by that not only the non-bodily but also the non-rational. Of course, those who live in a world that has overemphasized the body, or the reasoning mind, may find that they need to redress the balance in other ways than the one Paul stresses here. When you look at the worshiping Christian, what you should see is a whole human being, with every aspect united in giving praise to God.” (NTW, 1 Corinthians [For Everyone], 191)

In true worship, therefore, both the rational and the trans-rational are appropriate, since we become like and reflect that which we worship.

*John 3:16, in Swahili