Island Fever Glenn W. Harrell 1-16
Our First Calling If the church were stranded upon a deserted island, what one thing must she do, if no other? She must worship! The bride must worship her groom. On such an island, Worship would be the only thing that brought pleasure to God and kept the people from murder and mayhem.
Why would God say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments”? (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus is here quoting from Deuteronomy. The “Great Commandment”. Instead of asking for our love, God could have said,
“Now get out there and behave yourselves! Quit that, stop it! I’m not gonna tell you again! Go to your room and stay!”
Instead, he gave us a role. Worship Him. It simply means to honor him in reverence and humility, to be thankful for his mercy and grace. Out of such activity comes the ability to quit, stop, and behave ourselves. Worship is the engine that forces the wind across our wings to lift us up where he wants us to fly. Worship keeps us from becoming the island of “just our people”, cold and indifferent to outsiders. Worship causes us to love those whom God loves. It defines our love for others as being consequential from knowing Him. “Others” include the poor, downtrodden, lame, crippled, smelly, deceitful, liars, prostitutes, drug addicts and thieves. To shun them is to pray,
“Lord, help us to keep these people off our island! Oh, and the LGBTQ, Muslims, Hispanics and Blacks/Whites too Lord.”
Love is a serious element of two way demonstration. The beauty is that God is committed to loving us no matter our response back to him. John recorded these words,
“Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.” (I John 4:10)
Do your children and grandchildren know that your love for them is unconditional? Can you say for certain that your love for them is not hinged upon any performance that you require of them? Do you love them, even when they are selfish and rebellious? Does your love correct them when they stray from your truth? If your answers were yes, then you understand the love of God. This is exactly how God loves you and me; just as we are, “but too much to let us stay that way.”
Vitamin Deficient How many of us, in our desire to work our way to God by appeasement, will flail and worry? Or we pretend to love him by offering religious activity like “going to church” as fear of his punishment or work for reward. How many of us, in our limited understanding of God, act out our tactic of slyness? If we can convince God that we are not all that bad, perhaps he will be the Santa Clause we want who will give us all the toys we desire. We do this until we are just worn to a frazzle. What happened? Well, we left off worship. Not appeasement worship, but “please-ment” worship. Think of it, you and I can bring pleasure to God!
Worship reminds me that I am justified, loved and accepted by God because of His choice, not my work. So then, real worship gives me a second wind, a boost of the “Be” vitamin. As I ride the winds of his pleasure, He will give me all I need to be holy, be fruitful, and to be his witness to the world.
But what about this island we are stranded upon and so fond of?
Stir Crazy O boy, we have been on this island a long time now. And do we ever have it spruced up to suit us. Club Comfort. Thinking back, I can remember when I was just learning how to play island ball, and that awkward run to first base. I can remember getting mad at the coach. But too, I remember the joy of reaching first base, seeing our church applaud each the others efforts, and promote everyone’s interests. Now I am on a special team that is all huddled up on third base. We have fun and laugh a lot, but we miss watching the kids learn and the children swing and hit the ball for the first time. We long to see the youth come, goof off and then learn how to launch out. We want our young adults but they are not here, as in the old days, to stand on first and second base. And yet, we defy anyone to try and change our island! What to Do? If we neglect our young adults, our youth and children, we find ourselves alone on third base watching as others arrive at home before us, and the bases are empty, no one at bat. We’re stir crazy.
Go back to our First Calling It is here that each generation must learn to care for the other. Never, must a single age group dominate another and have their own way all the time. Never must a child disrespect his or her elder, and never must an elder despise the youth, pushing them away. WORSHIP removes all this. WORSHIP repairs all this. WORSHIP prevents it from happening again.
Island fever is where I have all others do church MY way exclusively— the old way–the best way—on my island!
Remember the disciples who wanted all the children to leave Jesus alone? Why would they do this? Island Fever! Remember the disciples who wanted to sit on Jesus right and dominate the others? What were they up to? Island fever! Remember the Pharisee’s and other leaders who were convinced that Jesus must do synagogue their way? They had the fever too! It made them a bunch of Coo-coo nuts.
None of us have to give up our preferences like the great hymns or praise songs we grew up with. What we have to do though is put them in perspective. Time moves on and with it, new people who live in a daily world that may bear little resemblance to ours. Our culture must never define or consume us, but it is a force to be reckoned with inside the church. Each local church must determine how they will maintain biblical purity and directive while at the same time connecting with each age group, each generation. Keep all these people in the same room when we worship. Worship is not to be divided by age, music, style, temperature or volume. What we do is “Put up with one another!” “In honor, prefer one another.” “Think about others needs first, not your own”.
“One faith, one Lord, one baptism.” Not traditional, contemporary, blended. It’s called a FAMILY!
We can sit on this comfy island until all of us are gone, or we can all go with search parties to find others who are stranded at sea.