Editorial: Defy the world, worship God together

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When we gather for worship this weekend—and every weekend after—we are defying the world.

The world thinks we need a building for worship. We don’t.
The world thinks we need safety to worship. We don’t.
The world thinks we need freedom to worship. We don’t.

Take away our buildings, and we will worship still.
Take away our safety, and we will worship still.
Take away our freedom, and we will worship still.

We will worship God together this weekend, and we will go on worshiping God because our God is not in our buildings, our safety or our freedom.

Take it all away, and we will worship God still.

Because our God is the Maker and Ruler of all that is.
Because our God moves mountains and men—and women, too.
Because our God isn’t limited by anything, not even death and the grave.

When we gather for worship this weekend—and every weekend after—we will gather in the name of Christ Jesus to declare he is King and this world is not.

And we will be found worshiping God in all kinds of circumstances in places all over the world—Paris, Sri Lanka, Russia, China, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Louisiana—no matter what may be taken away.

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Our gathering together to worship God is not for the purpose of defying the world. Defiance is a byproduct. May it be a holy defiance and not a haughty one.

Knowing our gathering together defies the world does not give us cause to puff up our chests. Nor does our gathering together ignore the suffering and grief of our brothers and sisters around the world. We are told to mourn with those who mourn, and so we do.

Knowing we don’t need freedom to worship God doesn’t mean we stop laboring to bring religious freedom to all people.

Knowing we don’t need safety to worship God doesn’t mean we are cavalier about it. Indeed, we stand chastened for not caring enough about a certain kind of safety and must now work for justice for the abused.

Knowing we don’t need buildings to worship God means we are free from worldly expectations. We can create places for worship as an expression of joy, not as a concession to necessity.

In our freedom from the anxieties and pressures of the world, we can pull back to consider that, in reality, our defiance is not against the world. No, Jesus gave his life to save this world and someday will make it new again.

Our defiance is not against the people of this world, lest our justice-seeking become justified brutality. We must consider our defiance.

I began with some good ol’ Texas “Come and take it” bravado, but with some of the steam gone, I must end with a modified stance.

Our beef is not with those who would shoot us, bomb us, burn our buildings down, sue us, restrict us or otherwise try to stop us. We are commanded to love them, to pray for them, to bless them.

Our beef is with the sin that we all are guilty of, that is in each of us and causes us to turn on our Maker in pride, greed, suspicion, fear and hatred worked out upon others. We are called to bear different fruit, not the fruit of sin, but the fruit of God’s Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We are called to work these out upon others.

When we gather for worship this weekend—and every weekend after—let us gather in defiance of sin, in defiance of fear, in defiance of apathy, in defiance of hatred.

Let us gather in the name of Christ Jesus, the King, to worship our God.

Eric Black is the executive director, publisher and editor of the Baptist Standard. He can be reached at eric.black@baptiststandard.com or on Twitter at @EricBlackBSP.

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