Thursday, September 04, 2008

My church is preparing to go through the 40 Days of Community experience. Some of the flyers and posters have the last 5 letters of the word highlighted. The reason for that is ... or should be … obvious. The purpose of this study is to look at why God put us together so that we need other people and so that other people need us. Our staff is going through the daily devotions (early) right now, and we will be going through them again as we participate in our small group studies. One of the recent readings reminded me of something A. W. Tozer wrote about unity in worship.

Tozer was a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination for some forty years. Though he had no formal theological training, his written works have been regarded highly by theologians (with formal training) for decades. Two of his books, The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, are regarded as Christian classics (ref. Wikipedia article on Tozer). This quote is from The Pursuit of God.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same [tuning] fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. (The Pursuit of God, 1948, p. 97)

I am indebted to Dr. Carl “Chip” Stam ( of SBTS for acquainting me with the quote. But as I contemplated the truth of that message, I could almost hear this interpretation: Since I love Jesus and these are my preferences, then everyone else should do things the way I want them because that’s how Jesus would have us to do them.

Can you hear the arrogance in such a thought? “I love Jesus and I like things this way, so that’s how we should always do them.” OR … “I love Jesus and I don’t like things that way, so that’s how we should never do them.” One thing is for sure … when we hear ourselves (and I say 'ourselves' because we are none of us immune to that tendency) saying stuff like that, we are not “each one looking away to Christ” as Tozer suggested, but we are each one looking at his own preferences and prejudices. Some of the most heated discussions we have in church are over how we worship (as opposed to how they worship). But Jesus said that the thing that will tell people that we really do belong to Him is the love we show toward each other … and toward those who don’t yet know Jesus’ love.

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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