Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Take a look inside

Each week at First Pres time is given in the service to offer a prayer of confession. 
Ideally, it’s a time to look inward and examine our hearts before the holiness of God. 

We ask the uncomfortable question: God, what do you expect of us? Such a question is step number one in understanding the inward dimension of worship. 

Worship involves self-examination. Before the brilliance of God’s holiness we discover gaps; the awareness that we are not doing what God expects of us.

Cornelius Plantinga, in his book, Not the way it’s supposed to be: A Breviary of Sin, talks about what happens when we fail to look at ourselves in the light of God’s holiness. Without an acute sense of the holiness of God,

“... morality is simply a matter of personal taste, that all silences need to be filled up with human chatter or background music; that 760 percent of the American people are victims; that it is better to feel that to think; that rights are more important than responsibilities, that even for children the right to choose supersedes all other rights, that real liberty can be enjoyed without virtue, that self-reproach is for fogies, that God is a chum or even a gofer whose job is to make us rich or happy or religiously excited, that it is more satisfying to be envied than respected, that it is better for politicians and preachers to be cheerful than truthful, that Christian worship fails unless it is fun.”

John Flavel, an old Puritan writer, used to say: "You cannot think highly of God and yourself at the same time." Once you've truly seen God, you must humble yourselves before him.

What's Isaiah’s response after encountering God? Conviction of sin. "Woe is me, for I am undone." The closer we  walk with God, the more quickly we feel our sin and realize how much we need God. Isaiah 6:5-7

It's like a huge mirror with a great big light over it. Stand away from the mirror, things look pretty good: suit looks in order; tie looks straight; the hair, what's left of it, is combed.

But move towards the mirror, things begin to show up. The suit has a spot on it. The tie is a bit wrinkled. The hair is out of place. Get closer to the bright light, and the clearer the defects. 

Same way when we get close to God. Get close to God, and suddenly we realize how much we need him and how far we are from him. We're convicted of our sin. And to be convicted of one’s sin is a good thing. Remorse over one’s sin is the prelude to repentance and forgiveness. This is what happened to the prophet. He was cleansed of his sin. When was the last time you felt undone in the presence of God?

Question: Has there ever been a time when worship moved you to repentance?