By Chaplain Mike
While I’m reading Skye Jethani’s superb book, The Divine Commodity, and preparing to review it, I thought I’d post this Open Mic question that grows out of a post on his blog, “What Should Worship Look Like? And why that question completely misses the point.”
Jethani is responding to some who have misread his book and assumed that he believes a certain style of worship is the only acceptable form. Using the misunderstanding as an opportunity to talk about his real concern, Jethani points to the experience of Moses as an example. Moses met with God on the mountaintop and the encounter made his face shine. Coming down the mountain, Moses veiled his face. Why? So that the people would not see the glory fading. “Whatever transformation Moses experienced in Godâ€™s presence on the mountain was temporary, and the veil hid the transient nature of this glory from the people.”
Then he writes this, the passage I would like you to read and discuss:
Mosesâ€™ experience is all too common among Christians today. Through the influence of our consumer culture weâ€™ve come to believe that transformation is attained through external experiences. And, as weâ€™ve already seen, many churches have engineered their ministries to manufacture these experiences for crowds of religious consumers. Weâ€™ve come to regard our church buildings, with their multi-media theatrical equipment, as mountaintops where Godâ€™s glory may be encountered. One pastor, explaining why his church opened another location across town, said â€œWe decided, if you canâ€™t get the people to the mountain, bring the mountain to the people.â€
Ascending the mountain every Sunday morning, millions of Christians want to have an experience with God and this is precisely what churches promise. And not disappointed, many leave these experiences with a sense of transformation or inspiration. They feel â€œpumped up,â€ â€œfed,â€ or â€œon fire for the Lord.â€ No doubt many people, like Moses, have authentic experiences of God through these events. Others may simply be carried along by the music, crowd, and energy of the room. Whether a result of God or group, what is beyond question is that many people depart feeling spiritually rejuvenated and capable of taking on life for another six days.
The problem with these external experiences, as Moses discovered, is that the transformation doesnâ€™t last. In a few days time, or maybe as early as lunch on Sunday, the glory begins to fade. The mountaintop experience with God, the event you were certain would change your life forever, turns out to be another fleeting spiritual high. And to hide the lack of genuine transformation we mask the inglorious truth of our lives behind a veil, a faÃ§ade of Christian piety, until we can ascend the mountain again and be recharged.
This philosophy of spiritual formation through the consumption of external experiences creates worship junkies-Christians who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that does not fade. In response, churches and Christian conferences are driven to create ever-grander experiences and more elaborate productions to satisfy expectations….
The mic is open.
You know the rules.