Thursday, 26 November 2009
Does the Call to Worship Have Burning Fiery Furnace?
"You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image ... we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." - Daniel 3: 5,17-18 (ESV)
I was reading this again this morning and was reminded once again of the strange similarity between most institutional churches "Call to Worship" and King Nebuchadnezzar's "Call to Worship." In both cases when the music starts, the people must stop what they're doing and come into an act of worship. It is equally ironic that the consequences for disobedience is also the same in both cases, namely face the "burning fiery furnace."
Now you are probably thinking that in our institutional churches we don't send offenders to a "burning fiery furnace." Well, in a literal sense, No we don't. In a figurative sense, Yes we often do. How do we do that? We do it through the glares of disapproval that we seem to give those who do not join with us as we "fall to worship" as instructed when the music begins to play. Those glares and stares, from institutional leaders and those in the pews, often have the same effect as a burning fiery furnace in that they burn deep within the offender. I have actually seen an individual "strong-armed" as he was escorted out of the worship service (worship ???) for his failure to follow the dictates of the institutional church's king (the order of service and call to worship). He was led out to his (figurative) "burning fiery furnace."
Isn't it strange how we often say that "All are Welcome" when in reality that is only true providing all who come think as we do and follow with us in our "Call to Worship?" Hmm. Yes, we all say that "God loves us." The problem is that our Christian love (love ???) for each other is normally conditional upon our joining the masses in falling down to worship at the appointed time. Our failure to do so gets us the "burning fiery furnace" of contemptuous glares, stares, and excommunication.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also excommunicated, as it were, for their failure to respond to the king's "Call to Worship." As a result, they got the "burning fiery furnace." I'm not going to dare to say that God is not in the institutional churches "Call to Worship," all though sometimes I do wonder (God alone will judge that), but I am saying that God is in the "burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:25).
So what is the lesson for us in all this? Maybe the answer is better stated in question form. How many times have we failed to take a stand for God against blindly worshipping the idolatry of the world's system? In the same way, how many times have we failed to take a stand against (dare I be politically incorrect and say it?) blindly worshipping the idolatry of the institutional church's system? Hmm, I wonder.
Instead, in the name of political correctness, and to preserve and protect our comfortable lifestyles, we justify our idolatrous actions. We gather around us teachers who will give us what our itching ears want to hear, not what we need to hear (Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 5:31; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Instead, we "fall down and worship the golden image" (Daniel 3:5).
Just because something calls itself a "church," doesn't mean that it is of God. It may very well be that God isn't in that place at all. That place, though called a church, may in fact be 100% of the world. It may even be an anti-Christ (1 John 2:18). "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4, ESV).
"Today, if you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts as in the rebellion" (Hebrews 3:15, ESV). The point is, what is God saying to us individually and corporately? Have we really heard His voice, or have we simply once again hardened our hearts? There used to be a saying that went something like this: if so-and-so jumped off the bridge, why would you do likewise? Just because so-and-so starts playing music and thereby tells us to "fall down and worship," does that automatically mean that we must do it? I don't think so!
We must learn to "hear his voice" for ourselves. At the cross Jesus made that possible. Why is it that so many believers today still have not grasped that, in that they continue to seem to need (the Old Testament Law system of) a priest (pastor, etc) to tell them what to do instead of seeking God for themselves? (See 1 John 2: 26-27). Maybe the answer is simply that it's easier and safer to simply blindly follow the status quo. At least that way we won't have to face the "burning fiery furnace." Deep down inside we may even know that is wrong, but we can easily justify ourselves in it.
One last question and that is, though it could potentially cost me everything, am I prepared to reject the "Call to Worship" often associated with the world system (and institutional church system) and follow God alone? Hmm, I wonder. Though it may cost us our lives, maybe the best place to find God is in the "burning fiery furnace."
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