Worship is engrained in the heart of man, it's part of our created nature. We long for the transcendent, we are empty in the material world alone and we NEED, we CRAVE, we search for something more! Many try to find comfort and peace in the midst of earthly pleasures, pursuing all sorts of distorted pleasures in hope that something will fill the void in our lives! The creature cannot be fulfilled by the created. By grace those who have placed their trust, faith, and lives in the work of Christ recieve by that same grace his peace that passes all understanding, his righteousness, his Spirit, his joy, his mind and yet we(the visible church) fail to worship the LORD as he so rightly deserves. Across the text of scripture there is only one unto whom worship is to be directed and the one deemed worthy is God, the God who saved us, the God who delivered us, the creator God and yet we sincerely lack to fulfill the task we were created to do. Let me be clear, I'm not simply speaking of being charismatic or performing religious rituals, I'm talking about an attitude of worship that works itself out in our actions towards the living God!
I want to look at the Gospel of John and in chapter 12 we find an example of an attitude of worship that lays down the temporal, lays down the cultural, risks everything, is willing to act, is willing to sacrifice and to do all of this in the name of worship, adulation, adoration, loyalty, faith, love, and trust. Let's set the stage...... we just previously were told the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave in the preceding chapter and the story picks up here in chapter 12 with a fellowship at the house of Simon the Leper(Matthew 26) where Martha is serving and Lazarus is seated at the table and Christ Jesus is present with them yet no one is phased, Simon the Leper as host doesn't even wash Jesus' feet as would have been the custom. Simon was a leper but Christ healed him, Lazarus WAS dead but Christ raised him and yet there's no account of them being enamored with the one who brought their healing but in walks a woman named Mary and everything changes! Mary, more than likely a former harlot, a woman who in that culture had no rights, no worth, no value, no dignity, no identity(as she wasn't married), and no hope walks in with an alabaster box full of ointment worth a years wages falls at the feet of the Christ washes his feet with her tears, pulls down her hair and drys them with it, anoints him from head to toe with that ointment and in complete abandon worships the Christ in a living room full of healed people who don't even acknowledge his presence! Mary gives us one of the purest pictures of an attitude of worship ever recorded. What was this attitude of worship?
First, it was a willingness to surrender! Christ declared that if any man were to follow him then he would have to deny himself, pick up his cross daily, and follow him. He also declared that if any love mother or father, brother or sister more than him then they were not worthy to be one of his. He also declared that any who sought to save their life would lose it but those who in surrender were willing to lose their life would save it! She surrendered EVERYTHING to Christ in this one moment of unconstrained worship! She surrendered her identity, her glory, her wealth, her reputation, she didn't just break the alabaster box, she broke herself and poured out everything that she was at the foot of the one gave her everything! She didn't just surrender part but this woman surrendered EVERYTHING!
Secondly, it was a willingness to sacrifice! Worship always costs something, every sacrifice cost a life, every act of worship costs a price! We MUST sacrifice our pride for we cannot humbly bow with a haughty brow! We must sacrifice our identity and be new in Christ! We must sacrifice our reputations, our standings in the culture, we will go against the grain at times, we will potentially be called to sacrifice all that we are, all that we know, all that we possess, and all that we love in this world to worship and we flippantly call a short meeting on Sunday worship! We can't even consistently sacrifice time, pleasure, sports, money, jobs, partys, or many other mundane things to commit to worship with fellow believers even though all those previous things will pass away but corporate worship will one day be an eternal act of the redeemed in the presence of God Almighty in heaven! She spent a years wage, spent her Glory, spent the cultural norm, and spent her reputation all in the name of worship.
Lastly, it was an attitude based on belief in the truth! Many attempt to worship God in spirit alone and not in truth! How can we worship that which we do not know? This house filled with people miraculously affected by Christ failed to recognize his diety or his prophetic word concerning his death, well, all except a local harlot who had been forgiven! Many can't worship in trust because they don't believe He's sovereign. Many can't worship in peace because they fail to recognize him as King! Many can't worship the Christ because the Christ they know is not the true Christ from scripture but a false Christ invented in their minds! Those who worship will worship in spirit and truth! Paul writes in the letter to the Corinthians that when we pray to pray with the spirit and with understanding and when we sing we are to sing with the spirit and with understanding! Corporate worship as well as individual worship will only be as great as our understanding of the one whom we worship! Know him, search him, love him and then you can rightly worship him!
I call us today to not sit idly by, but to recognize his presence, to act in submission, in sacrifice, and in understanding in worship of our God!
If you spent any time during 2020 with your ears open then you have heard the term "white privilege." This is defined and presented as fact, that those with less melanin in their skin have a foundational and continual privilege simply by having a biological deficiency. First, I must declare that race is a social construct, we are all one race, the human race! Ethnicity and culture define segments of the world populous but race is a figment of the imaginations of evil men who seek to divide. Let me enlighten you. I have more in common with a black conservative Christian than I do a liberal white leftist Atheist socialist! The new fad in our culture is identity politics, "wokeness," intersectionality, equity, and blunt racism. Racism, not from the ones being called racist but from those who are calling everyone else racists!
Blindness & Blind Racism
Though many have sought to redefine the word racism with Marxist lenses us normal people who believe in logic and rational thought and that words and their meanings matter remember that racism is easily defined as the belief that one race is superior to another. Under the current 1984 style redefinition of the word, racism can't come from the oppressed, i.e. blacks, but those who remember it's actual definition rooted in reality know that's not true, Nick Canon! I recently watched a clip from a segment of Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations where she and two others were discussing the ever allusive "white privilege." When one of the guests suggested that not all white people had power and money, Winfrey responded: “You still have your whiteness. That’s what the term ‘white privilege’ is. “It means that whiteness still gives you an advantage, no matter”.
If there's one thing you remember from this post, remember this. The summation of the statements of this black woman billionaire is this, that things negative that's happened in the life of a white person is a result of the persons character flaws and things positive is a result of the persons "whiteness" while also declaring that things negative that's happened in the life of a black person is a result of racism and the color of their skin and things positive that's happened is a result of their resolve and hard work!
That my friends is Racism at the highest level and she's blind to it!
Let us play Oprah's linguistic game. According to Oprah, white people can't talk about racism because they're white and men can't talk about abortion because they're men.By deduction then the question arises, how can Oprah lecture people on marriage having never been married, and lecture parents on child rearing while never having children, and lecture us all on oppression while experiencing the height of privilege, 2.6 billion dollars worth of it!
In the Unites States of America we stand level with opportunity as afforded us by our creator. The proof lies in the very life and accomplishments of Oprah Winfrey! Born in poverty in the middle of Jim Crow Mississippi in 1954 and experiencing molestation in her childhood and tragedy at 14 when she became pregnant and the child being born prematurely didn't survive she seemed to rise form the ashes and went on to live out the quintessential American dream! According to Wikipedia she became a talk show host, actress, television producer, media executive, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media", she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America's first black multi-billionaire, and she has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world.
With this reality I agree that privilege exists! Broad "white privilege?" NO! Privilege? YES! Let me explain, privilege is real and is rooted in the grace of God. Being an American is a privilege and being born here is a real gift from God because he chose your place of birth, your parents, your generation, and even your skin color! If possible, tell me anywhere else in the world a black woman with such experiences as Oprah Winfrey could rise above her life's obstacles to become the "Queen of Media" and claim a worth of 2.6 billion dollars! Privilege, American privilege! Grace, God's grace!
Trust the Sovereign God, rest in his plan, glory in the privilege he bestows upon you! Don't have partiality towards the rich or the poor, treat everyone with respect, dignity, love, compassion, and grace! Call out hypocrisy and racism everywhere you see it and declare the greatest privilege given to men, the privilege granted through the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the privilege that by faith through grace we could be called the sons of God!
As a human, fallen under the federal headship of Adam, I, like you, am often tempted to wander as the great hymn writer penned. With this odd cultural circumstance that we find ourselves in it's hard to be both focused and balanced and I often find those types of things out the hard way. In my zeal, like the Apostle Peter, my desire to act and to act on a large scale, in a large way, with a large scope, and sometimes with my sword out, I do damage to the Gospel that I so love and desire to proclaim and live out. I'm sure there have been many a ear that my zeal have injured and Christ, in Agape love, restored. (Luke 22 & John 18) I find the unbalance was a glaring reality that zeal had unfortunately blinded. I was attempting to proclaim the truth to the masses but not the person, an intangible mass removed from each individuals humanity and the result appeared self-righteous, condemning, and not joyful, peaceable, long-suffering, temperate, faithful, good, gentle, or meek. (Galatians 5:22-23) The love here, this fruit of the Spirit, is the Greek word agape and is rooted in interaction. It's often translated charity, like in the KJV, because it's interpersonal. It's declared the highest of love, it's unconditional, it's a commitment to positive action in someone's life without the expectation of return. You can't do that from 30,000 feet!
The good news to the man that is condemned in and by his sins is that in repentance and believing, that mans sins were placed upon Christ at the cross of Calvary and the righteousness of Christ was imputed unto him at conversion! David said in Psalm 32 "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." This covenant between God and man is interpersonal, Christ finished his work on the cross with purpose and precision. He didn't die for a faceless, nameless mass but for each specific individual who would believe upon him, he died for you, he died for Bradley! He didn't die to make salvation possible, he died to save! The good news of the Gospel is not that I can ascent unto him but that he came looking for me! The Gospel presented through this agape love of God towards man is best described by John the Apostle when, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
I found myself recently being aggravated by the world, by some Christians even, because of their responses to Covid, masks, riots, justice, BLM, and so on! Anxious about it, eager to "set them straight." We're called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 - agape) that requires charity, benevolence, and to be without condition! It also requires interaction, personal interaction. If there is a way to proclaim compassionless truth it is with a broad stoke, an unintentional audience, and a zeal and desire to be "heard" and not to heal! But, you might say, don't they need to hear the truth? Even if it hurts, the truth is the truth and if I love them then I will tell them the truth. While this is true the application must be considered. A parent, pastor, family member, friend, or one with influence is obligated by the Word to speak the truth in love, even if it "hurts" or offends the one receiving it, but what does that look like? It doesn't look like a diatribe on twitter, a condemnation on facebook, or an article in the newspaper, those are akin to the office water fountain gossip that condemns everyone and heals no one! What it does look like is a Samaritan who sees another in need and acts. (Luke 10, Go read the story if you're unfamiliar.) The scriptures don't tell us if they spoke to one another, it doesn't tell us if the injured man was aware or cognizant, we don't know if they exchanged names or learned of one another's life and experiences but we do know that the Gospel applied in proximity with agape love is effectual, it does something, it changes a life which will ripple out and change culture and continue on to change the world! Andrew Breitbart rightly said "politics are downstream from culture." And John C. Wright extended the saying as he said "Politics is downstream from culture and culture is downstream from religion. One cannot change a man’s mind unless his heart allows it. But one cannot change a man’s heart unless his soul allows it. In the same way politics is downstream of culture, culture is downstream of religion. In the same way a man’s actions are dependent on his beliefs, his beliefs are dependent upon his primal and fundamental assumptions that form his character. What we are fighting is not a culture war but a religious war, for leftism is not a culture, it is a religion." The good Samaritan had an advantage, he had no social media to glory and virtue signal his actions, he had no cell phone with a high definition camera to video the beating instead of coming to the aid of the injured, he had no like or share button on his facebook page for his fellow Samaritans to confirm and solidify his actions, and he had no cancel culture to destroy him should they disagree! This man had his conscience and God above to hold him accountable and he acted with the Gospel in proximity! The Gospel was tangible!
I'm not saying that we aren't supposed to fight evil on a large cultural scale. I'm not saying that we aren't supposed to fight for biblical justice on a political and judicial plane. I'm also not saying that our goals shouldn't be broad, national, or global but what I am saying is that the most effective change comes from small everyday personal interactions where we as human beings made in the image of God love each other with that unconditional agape love of the risen Christ! Buy someone's gas, invite people over for dinner, wash someone's feet, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR! They're not hundreds or thousands of miles away, they're right next door! Covid will end, masks will be irrelevant someday, nations will rise and fall, prophesy will end, knowledge will cease, but LOVE will remain!
1 Corinthians 13
The Excellence of Love
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love
Romans 1:18 (KJV)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
I remember when hurricane Katrina brought devastation to New Orleans in August of 2005. I also remember having discussions with other Christians questioning whether this could be the judgment of God. The question was raised among popular Christians and they received resistance as if it was unacceptable to think that 1.) God is still a God of wrath and judgment and 2.) that America deserved to be on the receiving end of that wrath! Today, some sixteen years removed from that destruction we find ourselves in a war, a war of ideologies and of worldviews, division is at an all time high, rioting in the streets of nearly every major city, a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives and is suffocating our freedoms, a financial crisis of depression magnitude, crime and murder are skyrocketing as police officers walk away from the profession with whole departments disbanded or defunded! It's like up is down and down is up! Churches were closed down for months, everyone is demanded and commanded to wear masks and avoid social contact! The question I must raise is why? And the answer I must give is Judgment! The wrath of God poured out on a rebellious nation and disobedient children! Our nation has abandoned it's Christian foundation and replaced it with secular materialism. We have exchanged our capitalistic constitutional republic for a marxist communistic intersectionality driven oligarch! We've abandoned our oath to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and replaced it with a culture of death, power, and political correctness where deviation equals cancellation! These things are destructive and sinful but they are not our most grievous of corporate sins!
Psalm 9:17 (KJV)
17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
In our current race war our flawed past has been brought to the forefront. If we asked the multitude what they believed America's greatest sin was/is I would wager that the most popular answer would be the institution of slavery. Though it is a mark upon our past it isn't even close to being our most grievous problem. With 600,00 slaves brought to the states from Africa and that population reaching upwards of 4 million by 1860 you might ask how this couldn't be the original sin of America but trust me, our most grievous sin dwarfs the magnitude of our past that's marked with this great evil!
Today our nation is committing genocide, murdering our own children! In an ad for New Saint Andrew's college they made this statement "the most dangerous place for a black life in this nation is a womb!" We have a new form of an ancient Canaanite religion, we're sacrificing our children to the god Molech!
Current United States Data*
Total number of abortions in the U.S. 1973-2018: 61.8 million+
186 abortions per 1,000 live births (according to the Centers for Disease Control)
U.S. Abortions in 2017: ~862,320 (Guttmacher Institute)
Abortions per day: 2362+ (GI)
Abortions per hour: 98+ (GI)
1 abortion every 96 seconds (GI)
13.5 abortions / 1000 women aged 15-44 in 2017 (GI)
These statistics include only surgical and medical abortions. Because many contraceptive measures are abortifacients (drugs that induce or cause abortions), it is important not to overlook the number of children killed by chemical abortions. Since 1965, an average of 11 million women have used abortifacient methods of birth control in the United States at any given time. Using formulas based on the way the birth control pill works, pharmacy experts project that about 14 million chemical abortions occur in the United States each year, providing a projected total of well in excess of 610 million chemical abortions between 1965 and 2009. (from https://www.all.org/learn/abortion/abortion-statistics/)
Our sins are many, our injustices abound, but the glaring tangible reality that this nation has forgotten God and the disobedient children(the church) are cowardly and silent is the fact that 61.8 MILLION, not hundred, not thousand, not ten thousand, not one hundred thousand, not a million, not ten million, not twenty million, not thirty million, not forty million, not fifty million, but 61.8 MILLION precious babies have been MURDERED at the behest of their parent(s), those who are supposed to protect and nurture them! If we believe that God would sit idly by and hold back his wrath of judgment on a nation so wicked then we don't know God nor his nature!
Think about it, Hitler killed 11 million, Stalin killed 20 million, Mao killed 30 million and the US has killed more than all three combined and ours were precious innocent babies! Judgment is not only deserved, it happening even now!