Last night, we had one of our Institute classes at The Gathering. If you’re not familiar, Institute is currently an in-depth systematic theology class we take some of our members through. It can be rather intense and challenging to complete. I have to say, though, I am so proud of those who have taken on the challenge and are seeing it through to the end.
The topics we covered last night were all related to the doctrine of Christ. I am always amazed at the blessing that comes through studying doctrine. That’s usually the stuff people find cold, stale and boring. Man, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! As we talked about the expansive nature of the Father’s love, the Son’s obedience and the Spirit’s power, we were left in awe. It just reminded me of how little we “get it.”
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: In dealing with the crucifixion of Christ, in his book, Bible Doctrines (which is our text), Wayne Grudem uses that sickening feeling we get when we know that someone is mad at us to describe something of what Christ must have felt. We sometimes lose sleep. We experience a nagging, gnawing in our stomachs and can’t wait for it to be made right somehow in order to relieve the agony we have experienced. When Christ died, the full wrath and fury of God the Father towards ALL of mankind was directed at and poured onto Jesus. All of it…in full force…at one time.
If we experience intense feelings when human relationships are damaged, how unbelievably intense must that have felt for Christ for the Father to not just turn His back on the Son, but to rage against the Son because of us; so that He didn’t have to rage against us? Do you get that?!
Regardless of how awful we think the crucifixion of Christ was; no matter how much we think we have a grasp of it…no! It was worse than that. “But I think I get it.” No, you don’t. It was worse. Unimaginably worse. Incomprehensibly worse.
As we thought through these incredible truths, we concluded that there is only one place to land; only one, real response: worship. Not just the “outer expression” of worship, but the deep, inner sense of awe and wonder, thanksgiving and praise that should be what leads to the outward expressions.
Too often, what we call our outward expressions of worship aren’t anything close to real expression. They’re frequently little more than Pavlovian responses to hearing certain music. The cool, emotion-driven song starts playing, the hands go up, the tears start flowing. Sadly, there is often little substance.
That is not to say that we should become conscious of what others are doing in worship. “Do they get it, or are they just ‘going through the motions?'” Quite the opposite. We need to become conscious of what we are doing in worship. Is it worship in spirit and truth? (John 4:24) Is it honest and is it based on the reality of what Christ has done? Is it in response to the substitutionary atonement that Christ has secured for His children and the sanctifying work of the Spirit that gets us through this life victoriously? Is it a natural outflow of our meditation on the depths of the Father’s love for us that He would reserve the full load of His intense fury for His own Son? Is it real worship because we understand that the glory of God is so important that all of this is done to magnify it? Do we really get it?
It’s when we spend the time thinking through, studying, wrestling with and realizing the deep things of God as revealed through Scripture that the heart becomes engaged and the outward responses are true expressions. This is why we have to go deeper than the spiritual milk Paul talked about and dig down deep into the nourishing meat of Scripture…yes, even those cold, stale doctrines…
…which are anything but.