If you’ve been reading my blog you know that the concepts of freedom and passion have consumed much of my writing. Over the past few hours I’ve been contemplating why there is so little of both within the church? I have a few thoughts; let me share them with you.
The first is culture. I was raised in a white middle class (lower middle class) family. Much of my Christian experience has been of the charismatic flavor but among predominately white, fairly conservative people. Not a typically demonstrative demographic, at least when it comes to faith. Our passions are compartmentalized. Socially, it’s completely acceptable to scream at your television on Sunday afternoon if your team is winning but it isn’t OK to scream out your praise Sunday morning at church.
As white American Christians we’ve been conditioned to be reserved, contained and controlled in our expressions of faith. Which brings me to my second thought – respectability, we value being cool and hip (am I dating myself again?). We want to fit in. We want to look good, not foolish. We ask ourselves “what will people think of me if I…”
We had an interesting experience this past Sunday morning. I love my church; I’ve got a great group of people. We’ve done some pretty creative things over the past few years and most of our folks have handled it very well. I was a worship leader for many years, for that reason (and because I trust them) I give my worship leaders a lot of leeway. They pick the songs they want and we worship until, well until we’re done. As we broke from our pre-service prayer Lynda, this week’s worship leader said “I think we’re supposed to drop the first two songs and begin with just the drums”. We’re use to Lynda’s spontaneous creativity so no one was put off by her statement. I said “great let’s do it”. So without a gathering prayer or introduction we began – percussion and drums only.
It took our folks about 5 minutes to realize that the service had actually started. It took another 5 minutes for people to realize that this wasn’t just an introduction to the first song. We worshiped for about an hour and I bet the first 30 minutes were with just the drums. It was a passionate, soulful expression of love for God. It was out of the box, even for most of us. It didn’t follow the normal Sunday routine, there weren’t any lyrics displayed overhead, there wasn’t the sound of guitar or keys. It was different and for a long time most of our folks were just spectators. Little by little, one by one people began to catch on and engage. Slowly, people were able to get past the awkwardness of the moment and the fear of looking foolish and just worship. Respectability will keep us from going outside the box, it will keep us bound and our passions contained.
Which brings me to my final thought for this posting, fear is another reason for the lack of freedom and passion within the church. Most of us, heck, all of us have been relationally wounded by someone close to us. When I’ve been hurt I put my shields up and I withdraw. Why, because I’m afraid of being hurt again. Here’s the problem, when I cut myself off emotionally from people, I also cut myself off emotionally from God. 1 John 4:20 backs this up: “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen”.
I’ve discovered that if I want intimacy (with God or people) I’m going to experience pain, it comes with the territory but it’s worth it. If I allow fear to keep me from intimacy I will never be free to experience passion. So, Culture, Respectability & Fear – these have been some of my personal hurdles.
Lord set me free from my cultural shackles. Set me free from my need for respectability and my fears of what others might think of me. Fill my heart with passion for you and grant me freedom to express it – completely, amen
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets”. Luke 6:26
Copyright © Tom Zawacki 2006