My spirit has been set free, like an unaware, trusting child. I am so thankful.
As I prayed, I wondered: Why is it that we fail to really enter in? Why do we remain trapped, unable to taste the purity of worship, unable to totally worship and let it all out? What is the root of this problem? I wonder if it isn’t, more often than not, the sophistication of our self-consciousness that holds us back, this pollution of image-worship and the resulting cloud of confusion, self-absorption?
- If I get emotional when I’m singing a worship song, then I will be faking myself out, immature.
- If I even sing a worship song, it will not match my life, which doesn’t worship God as much, so I will not sing. I don’t know how to sing or worship in my heart.
- If I stand up to worship when no one is around, I will just be religious, trying too hard.
- If I stand up to worship when others are also worshipping, I’ll just be copying them.
- If I lift my hands, what will that matter?
- If I dance, I might tread into the realm of weird or flakey.
- If I worship in silence, how will I know it is real? I have too many fleeting thoughts.
- If I point my spirit to God and thank Him while washing the dishes, cleaning, driving, working, taking care of the kids, it won’t be enough—I should do more. So I won’t, because what I have to offer isn’t enough. I should do more good works—that is more acceptable to God.
- If I ask God to meet me, He won’t come. I haven’t been consistent.
I think each of these lies comes from a root of the worship of image, the extreme self-consciousness of our culture. It puts us on a perpetual stage; it entices us with fantasies of having others watch us do great things, or having headlines written about us, or having movies made about our lives—we end up living to what we want our legacy to be. We try, as the philosophers say, to create our own lifestyles. This idol, this lie, this sin imbeds itself into our concepts of our own purposes, our concepts of who we are. We put our focus on ourselves as though God was responding to who we are. This pervasive lie tries to make us believe that unless others are impacted or see what God is doing in us, there is no value in our lives—and there is no value in worshipping.
Fortunately for us, there is a way out of this trap, and I think I’ve started to see how to escape. We can be freed from this problem, and we can return to worshipping and praying in unseen closets instead of the public places of our hearts (and blogs). Back when Jesus walked the earth, He asked His disciples a question while traveling along the road with them: Who do people say I am?
According to the Gospel of Mark, they responded, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets." And Jesus asked them another question: But what about you, who do you say that I am?
Jesus seeks our response to who He is. In letting go of the idol of image, we can, free of self-consciousness and self-absorption, say as Peter did: "You are the Christ" (Mark 8).
We are not in charge of creating our own lifestyle or our own legacy after all. We can relax and feel His love. We can worship. May each of our eyes be opened, and may we truly respond, unafraid and unashamed, to the One who transforms us, who loves us, who is our only judge.
The imagination, filled with the Holy Spirit, can brilliantly set us free to worship without shame or holding back. I pray for each of us to be stripped of sophistication. I pray for God’s holy mercy to light our path.
- John 8:12-30
- John 10:9-18
- John 11:1-45