Raise the Knife
This past Sunday morning I was standing in a nightclub, sipping coffee, with my Bible and journal in hand. Before anyone goes jumping to conclusions, this venue is the place my church recently began renting for its regular Sunday morning services. It is so interesting how and where God chooses to work. On Friday and Saturday nights, that club is filled with all varieties and variations of worldliness, but on Sunday mornings, new breath is breathed into the collapsed and dilapidated lungs of that building. When the people of God do what the people of God are supposed to do, they can excitedly wait with expectancy for God to include them in His mighty and powerful work. What a truly awesome experience to be involved in the work of God. But I digress.
If you are an avid reader of He Calls Me Son you will have no doubt read a bit about Indian Bible study and the significant impact it has had on my personal walk with Christ. To be a part of such an incredible community with all eyes focused on the glory of God is truly a remarkable experience and I cannot do justice in explaining how important it has been to my sanctification. This group has challenged me, encouraged me, and most importantly, this group allowed me to build more relationships with those in the Church. I have learned how truly vital community is to the Christian faith and that it really is a gift given to us by God.
This community has consistently urged me to determine what the Christian faith really looks like in my own life. Throughout those times where I experience breakthroughs it is almost always in the company of one from that group. On one such occasion in a McDonald's lobby, a guy who has really become a good friend and mentor of mine helped me to discover a part of my walk that needed a bit of rebuking in love. Little did I know, this conversation would so drastically alter my view on the subject of worship that it would completely redefine the term in my life altogether.
He took me back to Genesis 22 where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Isaac was a child born out of promise by God to make Abraham into a powerful nation with many children. What is even more incredible are the conditions under which Isaac was born. His name literally translates to laughter, given to him because of how much laughter arose at the thought of Sarah, declared in a previous chapter that "the way of woman ceased to be with her," and Abraham an old man advanced in years, conceiving and giving birth to a child. But Isaac was a child of promise, and God always keeps His promises.
We all know the story. Abraham loads up and sets out for the mountain God was going to show him, a couple of servants and his son Isaac following close behind. As they approach the mountain Abraham tells his servants to wait while Isaac and him go to the top of the mountain. Isaac carries the very wood that he would be bound to. At the summit of the mountain, Abraham binds Isaac to the wood that would be burnt for the offering. Just as Abraham is raising his knife to "slaughter his son" the angel of the Lord intercedes and affirms Abraham's faith and desire to follow God's command. We often stop there and marvel at the faith of Abraham, remark on his complete reliance on God no matter the cost, and we move on. But as we move on, we tend to skip over an incredibly important part of the text. Let us look at the verse in context in Genesis 22:1-5 (emphasis added),
" After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
Worship. That is the word Moses was inspired to write to describe what was about to take place. I cannot claim to be a biblical scholar, but I do not think Abraham intended to sing a few songs on the mountaintop and then come back to his servants. Abraham knew what God had asked of him, and Abraham knew the cost of being obedient to God's call. Abraham understood that true worship of God required sacrifice of himself partnered with faith that God would fulfill His promises, even after the death of his beloved and promised son Isaac.
Perhaps it is just an issue of semantics, but whenever I sing songs to God on Sunday morning or really any day during the week, I cannot in good conscience equate my singing with Abraham's raising of his knife. Does this mean we abandon all use of the word worship and stop singing? By no means! God loves when we sing to Him! But to continue to squeeze our definition of worship into a 12-minute-sized box with four chords and a flannel shirt is to deny God His due glory and honor.
I encourage you to really take a look at your heart and if you feel so led, begin to make some alterations to your vocabulary. Worship is so much more than we have made it to be and for years I have found myself guilty of minimizing the importance of sacrificing myself as worship to God and trusting that He is all I really need.
God deserves so much more than Sunday mornings. He deserves our very lives, sacrificed willingly, with full faith and assurance that He will provide all that we need. Let us continue to worship God in every aspect of our lives, giving Him all that He deserves.
Be looking for another post in the coming week as I continue to write about worship in the Christian walk.