Worshippers are both teachable and un-teachable

God made us to worship. That is what we do. When sin entered the world the desire to worship did not change. What changed were the options available to us that could be worshipped. If you were to ask me if I worshipped today I would say, “Yes, I did.”

If I were to ask you if you worshipped today you should also say yes. Worshippers are who we are. Worship is a 24/7 function of our being. The good LORD wired us to want to worship.

Asking the worship question could be like asking if I breathed air today. Questions about worshipping or breathing have only one answer if you are alive. The better question to ask is, “What are you worshipping?” This kind of question gets to the heart of our worship orientation.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

What you see is what you get

Jesus gave us undeniable truth when He connected our hearts to the objects of our desires. In His theology, desires and objects are connected. They are never polarizing. A person’s heart and his treasure function as one whole and true reflection of the person.

If you are uncertain as to what is going on in your heart, then examine your life. Your life will tell you clearly what kind of person you are and how you love the LORD. Jesus said it another way in Luke:

… for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45 (ESV)

Jesus was connecting the speech (behavior) of the person to the heart of the person. Humans are always true to themselves. You can draw a straight line from a person’s heart to his behavior because the two have been unalterably connected by God.  What you see (the things I do) is what you get (who I am).

It does not matter how I spin what I want to believe about myself in my mind or how I wish I was different. The reality is my behavior and my heart are consistently the same.

  • The heart is connected to the behavior.
  • The behavior is connected to the heart.

Who I am (heart) and what I do (behavior) is the totality of my true self. These two things working in a synchronized concert represent my authentic worship experience. While it is always appropriate to think the best about a person, we want to make sure our thinking about a person does not interfere with biblical discernment.

Sometimes because we don’t want to judge or be accused of judging, we are tempted to turn off our discernment meter and redefine or reclassify what we are observing in someone. This can be our way of unwittingly re-spinning what we are observing in order to make what we see more acceptable.

The down side is that the process of redefinition of observed behavior could release us from the responsibility of speaking into someone’s life. We are typically motivated to redefine a person for several reasons.

  • I do not want to get involved in the messiness of a person’s life.
  • I am afraid of bringing my observations to a person because of my insecurities.
  • I do not want to be disappointed or hurt by the things I see, so I pretend they do not exist.

Regardless of our motives, we must train our minds according to the Gospel. Getting involved in a person’s life regardless of how complicated or messy it seems to be is one of the most profound ways you can emulate Christ.

Christ got involved in the messiness of my life at a time when I most needed His intervention. He also got involved in your mess too. We were hopelessly lost without His involvement. We had a worship disorder that needed the careful and adjusting love of the Savior.

If you are observing things in a person’s life that seems to be wrong, then I would recommend you think about how to become actively involved in that person’s life.

Run a mental line from the behaviors you are seeing to the heart of your friend and ask God to give you discernment regarding what you are observing. God will show you if you ask Him.

Worship disorders illustrated

Gene is a controlling person. To be around him squeezes the life out of you. After years of being married to him, you have been dumbed-down to a manageable robot that beckons to all his queries. You have no life any longer. You are a mindless extension of his desires. You used to be his wife. Now you are just a bigger version of one of his children.

Matt is an angry man. You know this because you are his number one target. Rather than biblically dealing with the problem, you have chosen to take the “walk on egg-shells” and “path of least resistance” approaches. When others have been “spewed on” by his anger, you play it down. You are nothing more than a fearful damage controller.

Molly is a nag. There is no doubt about it. As her husband, you are worn down. You have lost faith for change to ever happen in her life and rather than dealing with it biblically, you are now dabbling in porn.

Manny is a tedious and exacting person. Time spent with him is like being Muhammed Ali’s punching bag. Everything you do is criticized or corrected. You’ve said you did not like it, but then you were scolded by him for being immature. Rather than pressing the issue further, you have resigned to “Manny will be Manny” and you are bitter.

Carol has many questionable Facebook friends. You know it is wrong, but you are afraid to do anything about it. If you say something she will fire back at you with a veiled threat. You live under the constant cloud of worry and anxiousness, never knowing if your marriage is going to survive this current fad in her life.

Gene, Matt, Molly, Manny, and Carol all go to church. They all serve in some capacity within their local congregations. Gene is a pastor. Matt is on the worship team. Molly works on staff. Manny is an usher. Carol leads the women’s Bible study. They have three things in common:

  • They all say they love Jesus.
  • They all serve Jesus.
  • They all have a worship disorder.

Calling the community

They are broken on the inside and it does not matter how much you wish it were different or how you wished they were not the way they are, they need help. They are the way they are and their authentic worship experience is not truly aligned with the true and living God.

It could be they have been regenerated. Maybe their salvation is not the issue, though you do want to give that some thought. Do not assume a person is a Christian because he says he is a Christian. If his worship is primarily directed toward something other than God, the most loving thing you could do is raise the salvation question.

However, if they have been regenerated by God–as much as you can surmise such things—then you need to deal with them in a Galatians 6:1 manner. What you then have is a believer who is caught in sin.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. – Galatians 6:1 (ESV)

You cannot overlook their problems or bury your head in the sand as though it is not happening. If he is your brother, then you have a responsibility before God to partner with the LORD, with the hope of bringing change to his worship disorder.

Paul never assumed a person caught in sin would auto-correct. It rarely happens. Paul is appealing to the Christians to be part of God’s redemption (restoration) team.

Though there is such a thing as a self-adjusting worship disorder, typically these things are repaired in a Gospel-shaped community. It takes a God-centered group of restorers to help a person to change. The bulk of Paul’s writings were to local churches or to individuals who were responsible for bringing a Gospel-shape to their respective local churches.

Episode or pattern

As you ask the LORD to help you discern the situation that you are observing, one of the distinctions you want to make is between an episode of sin and a person who is characterized by specific sin patterns.

There are episodes in our lives where we fail to live in the power and the grace of the Gospel. In one sense, we all have a worship disorder, but it is episodic rather than the habitual way we live our lives.

Gospel-shaped people understand their sin and sinful tendencies. We don’t run from the reality of our failures. However, there is a difference between a Gospel-centered person who sins and a person who is not living under the power and the grace of the Gospel.

In order to truly discern if a person is an “episodic sinner” versus a person who has a functional worship disorder you have to examine how he works through his sins, as well as how he allows you to help him work through his sin. Here are some examples:

  • Humility – A humble person is teachable. Humility is the benchmark of his heart. You will know quickly if the person you are dealing with is a humble person. The humble person will receive your correction, even if you are partially wrong. He will do this because it is not about winning. He is a learner.
  • Entreat-able – When I correct a Christian and he receives the correction with humility, it is a definite sign his heart is right with God. To humbly receive correction is affirmation that the LORD is working in the person’s life. This is His grace at work. Is your friend entreat-able? Am I entreat-able
  • Questions – The person is more desirous to receive counsel from you rather than feeling the need to explain his actions. The proud person talks a lot while making statements; the humble person will ask more questions while seeking to learn because he wants to change and grow.
  • Gratitude – The true worshipper will express gratitude to you for your correction. True worshippers realize their greatest problem in life was resolved at the cross. They also realize the process of sanctification is far from being complete. He is grateful, even though he may be hurting due to your observations.
  • Change – A true worshipper desires to change more than winning arguments. He is not exacting, especially in how you brought your correction. It could be you brought your correction with a sinful attitude. It could be your correction was partly wrong. The true worshipper of God will sift through your inadequacies because his main desire is to draw closer to God. Your imperfect correction will not deter him from changing.

It is easy to discern a true worshipper of God. He will be pursuing humility, seeking to be entreated, asking questions about how he can grow, and expressing gratitude for how you love him enough to speak into his life. These things will result in him gradually changing.

If this is what you observe in the person you are bringing care to, then you can be confident the person’s heart is right with God and he is worshipping the LORD in spirit and truth.

However, if you experience his pride through pushback, justifications, blame, excuses, and frustration, then don’t be deceived. His heart is broken. He has a worship disorder and your job is to seek the Spirit, along with godly counsel, so you can learn how to best bring care to him. And he probably will not welcome your care. Nevertheless, the LORD loves us while we are sinners (Romans 5:8), not just when we stop our sinning ways. Will you be like your LORD to your friends?

True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:23-24 (ESV)

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