“The glory of God is man fully alive.”– Saint Irenaeous as quoted in Waking the Dead by John Eldridge.
As I’ve been reading and listening to what God is speaking into my life, it occurs to me that something has been missing for some time. I have been a Christian for 33 years now. I am steeped in the traditions of Plymouth Brethren. I have sat through more Bible readings and lectures than many seminarians. If time served and attendance made you a true follower, I would be an apostle. I am not bragging, but I feel it is important to set the stage to explain the epiphany Kirsten and I have been heading towards for about the last year. My form of Christianity was missing something: my heart.
After years of attending one Brethren assembly or another, we began attending a Baptist church. This is not intended to be a knock on the Brethren, but this was exactly what we needed.
One key element for both Kirsten and I was worship. We were so distracted by the cacophony of three people battling for the correct pace or pitch of a song that was written three hundred years ago, which the authors of the “Little Flock” hymnal had edited for spiritual correctness in 1881, that we failed to notice how undistracted we were by the lack of musical accompaniment with the exception of certain meetings as decided by whomever showed up for the brothers’, (not elders…), meeting. We now sing together with a large assembly, a choir and a band. The worship leader keeps us more or less on the same page and I feel directed toward the Lord. I am not staring across the room at someone trying to really explore the reaches of a song that was written by someone who spoke Elizabethan English.
This is followed by a sermon that takes the theory and theology that I have been steeped in and shows me how it applies to my daily walk. It is also applied to how we as individuals and as a church community can reach out to others. The feeling is one of going out and seeking rather than praying that the right people will find you and hang out long enough for you to sniff their theology to see if they are worthy to obey God’s command to examine themselves and then join the fellowship around the LORD’S TABLE!
All this to say that I realized I hadn’t been feeling much of anything. My Christianity was purely cerebral. There is nothing wrong with being a theology wonk as long as you can feel touched at new realizations of the sacrifice of Christ for you personally and the exhilaration of His triumph over death and sin to give you a new life and a new hope. As Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”