I don’t want to write this, I’ve tried to avoid writing this and coming up with a post on any other topic except for this, but that is not working for me. Over the past thirteen weeks, I have worked on an in-depth research paper for my undergraduate degree about worship and communication technologies. In the process, I learned a lot about worship and I’d like to think that I perhaps now know a little more than the average person does about the subject. Also during this time my church was undertaking a creative project, an act of worship, in the form of a complete new stage design. I say all this to say that both these projects taught me a lot about worship. Helping in the small way that I did with the project at the church, I learned about how important unity is.
It’s the subject of unity that I want to talk about, something that is discouraged in fundamentalism unless the person or organization believes exactly the same way you do on every single point of doctrine. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I should be making peace rather than strife, that it doesn’t matter if people believe differently than I do on any subject, that I should be pursuing peace with everyone. During both these projects relating to worship, God brought some things to my attention.
One thing that I really have trouble with is forgiveness. I want grace for myself but am often hesitant to give it. I want people to judge my motives as good when I do not judge other people’s motives as good. So I was mad at a few of the precious people that I go to church with. For me, God used something that Jesus himself preached in the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave you gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV).
Most Sundays you will find me working at the church doing visual media for worship, and I really was convicted about using my talents in media and offering them to God for an offering of worship, when I was holding onto hurt feelings and grudges towards my own brothers and sisters in Christ. I knew that God wanted me to be reconciled before I continued to worship him in this way.
Over the past two weeks I began going to people that I had harbored hard feelings against, for whatever reason, and told them I was wrong and asked them to forgive me. On Sunday, during the service, I left from my seat in front of the video mixer for a few minutes while I quietly spoke to my pastor, telling him what I had learned, and asking him as the pastor of the church to forgive me for using my talents in worship while not being reconciled, and for affecting the unity of the church, because even if most people were oblivious, this stuff does affect the unity of the church. I said much the same thing to the worship pastor. For me I felt like this was a necessary step in the process, and while I felt like an idiot, I also felt like a weight had been lifted from me.
So with both the worship projects, God really taught me a lot about unity and living at peace, and it’s something I’m still working through because I know where this is ultimately going. God wants me to totally forgive everyone who has ever hurt me, even those that did the unspeakable. I’m learning as I go along that bitterness and unforgiveness hurts me more than it hurts anyone else, in fact this is a huge lesson that I am taking away from this whole series of events. I’m trying to clean up and take out my trash, as it were, as we approach lent so that I can go into lent focusing on Jesus and I’m sure he’ll have a lot for me to learn during lent.
If we have something against a brother or sister in Christ, it will affect the unity of the church whether we think so or not. It hurts the entire church if two people are mad at each other, and it should not be like this among the church. Part of my responsibility in corporate worship is to be reconciled with everyone I am worshipping with, because if not, it will affect the corporate worship.