Simply and Honestly Yourself – Secret Santa Worship Day

©Aaro Keipi
©Aaro Keipi

QUOTE “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” (John 4:23-24, The Message)

All editors on Church Set Free, along with other contributors, have decided today to write about Worship. What it is in our point of view. What it means to us. How we participate. And since we’re all different, all a ragtag bunch of square pegs in round holes, I imagine we’re called to worship uniquely. Some following corporate guidelines. Some using private boundaries. Some using no boundaries at all. Some somewhere in between the lines.

As you read my own point of view, I encourage you to go deeper, to explore how others find their connection with God, and to seek ways you best unite with the One who abides in you.

I discover worship in this group. And I treasure worship just the two of us, alone with my Father. At home on my deck. Or in my rocking chair. Or writing praise poems in front of my corner window, my cat sitting in repose on the window sill. God surrounds me with His beauty, and I embrace Him with my heart. It is sacred and holy. It is warm and inviting. It is laughter filled and joyous. And sometimes, it is simply silent.

To be quite frank, I rarely worship in church anymore. Have I had some bad experiences in church? Sure. But I’m not blaming church. And I’m certainly not going to tell stories here that would add grist to the mills of people who simply want excuses not to go.

I’ll just say I’ve had a calling to spread the Good News in an expansive way for about 5-6 years now. A Spirit-led calling which has become stronger with every passing year. Not some airy-fairy thing, this calling has become so strong that a few years ago, I attended and completed a 2-year Bible interpretation certification program. Because I wanted to ensure I was not only reading, but writing about the Word correctly. To live a life of love, reflecting Jesus in my heart and in my words. My sense is my Father wants me to use this gift of writing to spread His Good News of Christ’s love and grace, of compassion and mercy, of everlasting salvation and life to as many as will read the words He places in my thoughts.

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” (1 John 4:17-18, The Message)

tapestry-panelWhen I first found this group of bloggers online, I felt an immediate connection – a koinonia – I hadn’t felt in years. It wasn’t just an emotion. It was a spiritual relationship, like a thread in a tapestry sewn by the Holy Spirit. I’ve been knit together with some of them for about two years; some of them have been connected for longer. And to be able to meet this way in real time together – across this country and other countries – reminds me of the way the apostle Paul met with and disciple his churches. But Paul had to travel long miles and over much time to see other believers face to face. Oh, but what if he had Skype!

I truly believe church and worship comes in different forms for different people. Truthfully, when I first became a believer, I couldn’t have done it without traditional church. Attending church bolstered my prayer life and my bond with other believers. It started me on a lifelong journey of study and discipleship. And I would never, ever tell anyone not to belong to a traditional church. I think fellowship is important. I think it’s particularly important for young, growing families.

However, I also think there may be a season or more when another kind of church is appropriate. A more intimate kind of church. A living room kind of church, where getting to know the heart and needs of people is important. Where worshiping through daily words and actions is more important than listening to a sermon on Sunday morning. Where a good cry, a belly laugh or a hug can lead someone to the Father’s heart more certainly than a seat in a building. I am fortunate. I have both in my blogging community and in my housing community.

“And let us consider how to encourage each other to show love and do good works.  Let us not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but continue to encourage one another all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you look at the Church Set Free Aboutpage, you’ll see we’re all here to build up and encourage, to learn and disciple, that it’s a safe place of mutual love and respect, and “seeing someone come to a new relationship with Christ is more important than having our own way.” I invite you to worship with us today, to see how ten different people unite together to love the same God. While we each worship in our own way, we all do our best to listen to the Spirit and follow God’s way.

We’re all growing in the Spirit; God isn’t finished with any of us yet. As we plant seeds of encouragement in you, I hope you pass along whatever has encouraged you, whatever has caused your heart to swell with love and grace, whatever thread has connected you to the heart of Jesus in worship.