Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beware of Your Wonderful Ancestors!

Beware of worshiping the past for if you do you will repeat the sins of your ancestors.
"There is none righteous, no, not one."
Romans 3:10

Scripture warns us about worshipping the way our ancestors did in the past. Through the prophets, again and again,God tells the people he hates their worship activities and practices – even when they were faithfully following his prescribed forms for worship. How can this be?
Zechariah Chapter 7 gives us God’s major complaint:
“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message…’Say to all your people and your priests, “… when you fasted and mourned…was it really for me that you were fasting?  And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves?  Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah were well populated?”’”
The core message:
You do what your ancestors did – your worship practices are just to please yourselves.”
God’s prophetic question, then and now:
“Was it really for me that you are doing your acts of worship?”
Beware of worshiping the past for if you do you will repeat the sins of your ancestors. Even when their churches were bustling with people and their deserts were blessed and productive, their worship practices were not for God, but to please themselves.
Not only that, but God says:
“Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past?”
This is the inherent problem with pride in our past and pride in maintaining the ways of our church founders and ancestors. Even if the practice was once “for God” and God alone, our pride in the past demonstrates that now we are doing it to please ourselves.
Truth is, at least in my own religious background among Friends, except for perhaps the first 50 years, the first generation of Quakers, the worship practices among Friends have been adopted and perpetuated because they please us. It feels good to once a week (or more) slip into our religious comfort zone.
Even when many of our meetings adopted the worship forms of revival, they were not about God, but about pleasing ourselves adopting forms which our other brothers and sisters in Christ used and found helpful and we found attractive.
Whether you are Quaker, Wesleyan, Baptist, or Charismatic it was not the worship forms which demonstrated revival among God’s people. It was the fruit of worship, the fruit of having a heart after God’s own heart:
Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. Your ancestors refused to listen to this message.
I have been in too many congregations where, despite wonderful inspiring worship, the church and people from the church did not judge fairly and were not merciful and kind to one another. Because of this few congregations are places were individuals can truly be open and share and find rest for their souls. Instead they find lopsided judgment, often harsh, even punitive. The members extend demands or shunning, gossip and berating, in place of mercy. Among the congregants acts of kindness beyond their own click are rare, not the norm. No wonder the best way to survive in many churches is hiding from other people.
Beware of worshiping the past for if you do you will repeat the sins of your ancestors. As God says:
“They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.”
“Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me.”
Quaker Meeting House in Randolph, New Jersey by © dbeards3

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