Connecting With God In Authentic Worship
Featuring John Chisum Posted on March 5, 2008
I love technology. When someone called me “the gadget man” the other day, I did a quick search on my combo PDA/MP3/cell phone/pager/digital camera/mini-hard drive with wireless internet/TV/Blue tooth/flosser to see if what he called me was a compliment or not. I think what he meant was that I was hopelessly addicted to my time-saving electronic devices, in the nicest possible way, of course, and it’s true – I literally depend on these things! Whenever the internet goes down or I’m having computer problems, the deprivation of e-mail access is excruciating. What if someone sends me something important?!? I’ve been known to pay exorbitant charges while waiting in airports for WIFI (wireless internet) on short layovers that most people would use to get a coffee and a bagel. I’m starting to look like a Cyborg with a cell phone headpiece growing out of my ear and I’ve been saving up for an electronic implant that I saw on TV - I must be CONNECTED!
If there was a gadget for being connected to God, I would buy it. If someone came up with a technology for connecting with the feelings of peace, joy, forgiveness, love, and greater meaning in life, they would quickly become the richest people in the world because everyone, including me, would buy it! And, if such a technology was really easy to use, we would be lining up in front of the stores in record numbers with lines longer than any ever queued up to buy Tickle Me Elmo’s. We all want these things. We all desire love, joy, and peace. We all want to feel like our lives really count for something and that we’re making a difference on the planet. We all, in one way or another, spend our minutes, days, weeks, and years pursuing these things and the people who figure out how to convince us that they’ve found the answers we want make the biggest connection of all - the one that goes straight into our pocketbooks! Ultimately, as you may have experienced, all the weight-loss pills and no-money-down-get-rich-quick schemes in the world never amount to what we really want – a direct connection with God.
Jesus - The Ultimate ISP
In what might be called the highest kind of technology, God has already provided the connection we desire in a relationship to Him in Jesus Christ. All that could ever stand in our way to experiencing the best He has to offer has been washed away – we are now free to connect at no additional charge! Jesus has forever paid the connection fee for us and become the ultimate ISP – our very own Internal Satisfaction Provider – giving us 24/7/365 uninterrupted access to the Father! No more dial-up, no more aggravating dead-end downloads that just leave us where we started – He’s the real deal! The Apostle Paul penned most of the New Testament by personal revelation from Jesus Himself (see Acts 9 and 2 Corinthians 12) and was the first writer to connect us with God in the way that we understand it now in praise and worship. Without his work inspired by God’s Spirit, we would still be wandering around trying to make sense of all that Jesus accomplished for us. Other writers made valuable contributions, of course, but Paul stands alone when it comes to understanding worship in its truest form and more fully grasping how to have a great relationship with God in Christ.
The first thing we have to understand is that Paul, a Jew and a member of the powerful Sanhedrin council, was among the most highly educated and zealous leaders in the Inter-testamental period (that time between the Old and New Testaments). His zeal for Judaism and for stamping out its enemies was unparalleled. He took his religion seriously, leading him to persecute, torture, and even kill many involved with the new Christian sect of his day. The believers feared Paul (then Saul of Tarsus), until God claimed him for the faith and made of him a chief apostle. Paul, a devotee of Jewish orthopraxy (right behavior as a means of salvation), became the greatest proponent of grace (salvation by faith alone) that this world would know until Martin Luther himself. Paul’s views of the connection of worship to God are among the most important that we have in the Scriptures and should be taken seriously as directives for our personal and corporate worship practices. All that he preached and wrote to the young churches he planted was to the end that they might connect with God and live out His will and destiny for them.
Christ in You
Nowhere in Paul’s writings is the connection clearer between us and God than in Colossians 1:24-27 where he wrote, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Our connection with God will never be very strong if we miss the all-imposing fact of His presence in us. Without a sense of His abiding presence, our corporate celebrations are reduced to our begging Him “to show up” accompanied with a sense of failure if He doesn’t. As exciting and meaningful as special times in the presence of God are to us, they are not nearly as important as a daily sense of His presence in our lives because most of us do not live at church. We work, we play, we go to school and we do a lot of other things in the days between services. Successful Christianity rises and falls on a sense of God’s abiding presence in our lives.
Do you want to connect with God? Then, like me, it may be time to turn off all the gadgets and just get quiet. Our addiction to busy-ness itself is the number one reason few of us feel close to God. I have said many times in my seminars and workshops that “Busy-ness is the enemy of intimacy with God” and it is true! Nothing kills any relationship faster than not taking time to enjoy it. Far too many pastors, worship leaders, and church workers burn out and never fully recover because they’ve abused themselves and God by not taking some personal time to just wait in His presence through the word, worship, and prayer. When we take a few minutes to turn off all the gadgets and connections to the world, we can plug into Jesus, the ultimate Internal Satisfaction Provider, and find all the internal satisfaction that He gave His life to make available to us in Him.
Heavenly Father, I thank You now that You have provided the ultimate way to connect with You through praise and worship. Give me more grace today to unplug from the distractions of the world to concentrate on my internal connection with You. Give me a hunger for You in Your word, in worship, and in prayer. In Christ’s name, amen.
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