Reflections on Biblical and
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Worship for All of Life: Our Work for That Is Where We Spend Our Time!

 

(Worship and work dynamic, practical living for Christians, worship and study, study and worship, being a pastor, medicine and medical ethics, time spent in worship is small, unless…)

 

We have for at least a century and a half perfected the separation of the abstract, theological, ultimate, spiritual aspects of our life from the concrete, practical, proximate, physical aspects.  I have repeatedly read that the Hebrews had no such concept of division.  Methinks the Enlightenment made this schism official, and that the church accepted this rotten "deal" and has gone off into ethereal spaces disconnected from the physical, actually a kind of Gnosticism.  We have become Pharisaical about Pharisaism, tossing out their legitimate concern for precision and application because they so often distorted the ultimate goal and substituted rule-keeping for saving faith.

 

I just read a piece in Counsel of Chalcedon (or maybe it was Chalcedon Report) which critiques the invention of a "quiet time" as the only method for study and growth.  My own practice is to have much longer periods of study followed by conviction (usually) and prayer over what evil has been turned up by the plow.  In my medical work, my cup runs over with opportunities for application.  I had an hour and a half with one of our more inquisitive second year residents, day before yesterday, to tie in specific theological teaching, scientific epistemology, etc., with actual issues in patient care.  He was late to something else he had to do because he was so drawn to a conversation containing practical specifics with clearly identifiable cords back to the Bible. 

 

You certainly could be a pastor if you wanted.  The former pastor of our current pastor stood for examination without having completed a seminary degree, on the strength of having read for years in a Christian book store he operated.  I was present at his presbyterial examination years ago, and he turned in the best of any I have ever witnessed.  I am sure the examination would be no issue for you, except that you'd have to formally learn Hebrew and Greek.  However, the moment you put on the vestments, a horde of modern expectations would come down over you with it, stifling the penetration and creativity you have now.  Perhaps you could overcome it, but it would add these troubles to you perhaps without countervailing benefits.  There are few vocations equal to medicine which so test the nexus of the theological and the practical.  There are few today who study basic, usually old, theological works, including pastors.

 

Some of the more "charismatic" churches have meetings in which the members do relate their recent experiences and how they succeeded, failed, or remain puzzled.  Unhappily, they merge these into the formal corporate worship service.  It could be dynamite to have, instead of Sunday school, an hour after the sermon for discussion of the sermon and some accounts by the members of their successes and failures.  Skillful loving hands have to encircle such meetings, as they can become mere pep rallies, or complaint sessions, or gossip mongering.  Yet, many things well worth doing carry risks with the opportunity.  At least in such sessions corporate worship would have the possibility of connection to the worship we render in our calling. 

 

A revelation.  The current “worship wars” are another myopic focus of the church—a majoring on minor minors.  Even our first Shorter Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  Only on Sunday?  Only for two hours a week with perhaps 5 minutes a day in a pre-formatted “devotional guide?”  Let’s see 2.5 hours of 112 hours per week (allowing 8 hours of sleep per night) is 2.2 percent of the time we are to worship God—and we fight over that?

 

Our worship and our work are to be one.  “Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God is One. I am amazed how often I come back to that statement.  If we are to worship God, it must be in our work because that is where we spend most of our time, and certainly it is where we put most of our energy.  Occupancy of time alone demands that we worship in our work; else we relegate God to minuscule down time. 

 

This idea gets back to your horizontal focus.  The horizontal and the vertical must be merged—become one and the same.  (The Shema again.) Secondary causes are primary causes and vice versa.  The Christian life is about wholeness.  Berkouwer has written about how responsibility and freedom merge if they are understood correctly.  We are free to be fully responsible, and we are most free when we are fully responsible.  There is ultimately no conflict between freedom and responsibility. (The Shema again!)

 

What I am saying does not invalidate or diminish corporate worship, but in fact would enhance it.  What if we all came together to discuss our victories and failures of vocation in corporate worship?  How glorious would that be?  And, it might even be more evangelistic than trying to “get a decision.”

 

How can the church be so far off course?  Why would God allow it to be so?

 

P.S.  I don't think that I told you that Duncan asked me about my being a pastor.  I don't think that he could grasp someone with my theological/ethical interest who should not be in the pastorate.  However, I think that I did find my calling.


 

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