There’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a while, and I didn’t even know it was an issue until lately.
I think we all agree that there is an alarming lack of genuineness in our churches. No matter what kind of week we’ve had, no matter how rushed we were just to make it on time, no matter how upset we got at our spouses that morning, no matter how insane our kids are driving us…we’re still expected to take a deep breath, throw on a smile, and enter the foyer like nothing is wrong. Everything is “fine.”
So we find ourselves adrift in a sea full of mask-wearing, Sunday-best-attired people.
And that’s a problem.
…Or is it?
I completely agree that the church needs to be a place, a gathering, a group where people can tear down their walls, remove their masks, share their sins and their struggles with each other. We need more of that. But is the corporate worship assembly the best time and place for this to take place?
There have been a few times over the last couple years where something will happen right before worship that gets me stressed out or angry. As a worship leader, how would it affect the rest of the congregation if I weren’t to shake it off and make like everything is okay? How effective would worship really be if everyone who was plagued by stress, hostility, anger, and heartache throughout the week were unable to cover over those wounds for a while?
You see, the church is bigger than just our worship assemblies. When we gather together on the first day of the week, the focus is not on ourselves and our own problems. Our focus should be on God, remembering Christ, and worshiping in the Spirit.
Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Granted, he’s not talking specifically about our worship assemblies, but I think the point stands all the same. When we gather to worship, God’s glory is revealed to us – not as fully as it will be on the last day, but we get glimpses of it on earth. When we worship God, we are declaring his “worth-ship.” God is worthy of all our love, devotion, and attention. That means that nothing else on earth is.
We may have problems, but in worship we are setting those problems in their proper place. There’s a song we sing occasionally in worship that has this line: “Let’s forget about ourselves and magnify His name and worship Him.”
I would submit that when we are able to rid ourselves of all the stress, anxiety, anger, and sadness in our lives and truly give ourselves up in worship to God, that is not putting on a mask. This body is temporal. These problems are passing. When we worship we are embracing the eternal part of ourselves as God’s creation. We are, in fact, being more like who He intended us to be.
So maybe, when we are able to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2), we are actually letting our true self through. Maybe we aren’t putting on a mask, maybe we’re taking it off. Maybe we’re saying, “It doesn’t matter what happens to me in life. What truly matters is that I can and will choose to worship God no matter what.”
So this Sunday, are you putting on your Sunday best or are you stripping off your weekday worst?