Searching for the Unknown

How did this message impact you? Share your testimony

This contact form is deactivated because you refused to accept Google reCaptcha service which is necessary to validate any messages sent by the form.

Manuscript:

Introduction:

  • District Assembly
  • Boxes surrounding the platform
  • Struggle with where do we go from here, why does any of this matter?
  • Scripture reading
    • Acts 17:22-31
    • John 14:15-21

Movement 1:

  • Thesis project
  • Revelation of the embodiment of worship
  • What we love drives everything
  • Neuroscience and psychology are immense fields of study that are not intended to be treated exhaustively in this study regarding the direct application of neuroscience and psychology to how we are shaped in worship scientifically. It is important to draw on the theoretical basis of these areas and how they inform worship practice. What we find is that neurologically, both the structure and function are shaped by the environment. What we do with our bodies matters and forms conscience and then perhaps unconscious habits and thought processes as we respond to a stimulus. Through this repetition, we develop anticipatory expectation that becomes linked to behavior habits that are processed primarily at the level of tendencies to act, emotions, and unconscious appraisals.” Worship practice then can be seen as a formative event that is modeling, teaching, and indoctrinating participants in certain behaviors.
  • This “liturgy is a “hearts and minds” strategy, a pedagogy that trains us as disciples precisely by putting our bodies through a regimen of repeated practices that get hold of our heart and “aim” our love toward the kingdom of God.” Worship practice is a formative event that is modeling, teaching, and indoctrinating participants in certain behaviors. Our heart, mind, soul, and body are continually shaped through embodiment.
  • What kinds of routines do you have in your life? What patterns and commitments do you have on a daily and weekly or consistent basis? Get in groups of 3-5 and talk about it.

Movement 2:

  • Scripture breakdown
    • Acts
      • Paul is addressing the leaders in Athens recognizes all of the objects of their worship, including one addressed to “the unknown god”.
      • “How often do we worship an unknown god, created in the image to which we think God must certainly conform?  Granted, I don’t know many (OK, I don’t know any) professing Christians who have literally forged a god of “gold or silver or stone,” but I know a few who have created “an image made by human design and skill.” (NIV)  In reality, I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t done this at one time or another.  This is a passage pointed at philosophers and those who are well and widely learned.  But there is something ironic about this Athenian culture, something sprinkled with humility in the midst of polytheism/pantheism.  The tendency of the very religious is to believe they have a handle on God, but the people of Athens clearly understand they do not.  They are meticulous in their worship of many gods. At the end of the day, there stands an altar to the unknown God, to the one they cannot quite figure out or perhaps the one of whose existence they are not even convinced, but they do not want to offend… just in case another god looms somewhere beyond their awareness, even though they are so very spiritual. In some ways, this is the stuff folk religion is made of, even in our churches today… even among the well-meaning devout.”
      • Story of lady in Ashland restaurant
      • We are created to worship and all of humanity is searching to fulfill that in some way!
      • Religion versus relationship

Movement 3:

  • Scripture breakdown
    • John 14:15-21
      • We confuse worship to be an intellectual exercise but the source and directive of our worship is found through our heart.
      • Thesis reference
      • Passage – If you LOVE me, you will keep my commands.  The ability to obey is rooted in our love.
      • “Jesus said that evidence of love for him, and therefore, love from the father, is to follow his commandments. What, then, are the commandments of Christ? Matthew tells us that all of the law and the prophets hang on these two; love the Lord with all that you are, and love your neighbor. (Mathew 22:37-40) And John tells us one chapter earlier that disciples will be known by the way they love one another. Apparently, the commandments of Christ are to love. To be loved by Christ and the Father, and to receive the Holy Spirit, we must be those who love!”
      • Our love leads to right behavior and right belief
      • In the Acts scripture:
        • “Of utmost importance in this address to Gentiles is Paul’s assertion that humanity is universally God’s concern.  All nations come from one person.  God has marked history and boundaries in such a way that, “we are [all] his offspring.”(NIV) In a cultural climate that was still hesitant to accept the Gentiles as part of the people of God, this teaching is critical.  They are worshipping an unknown God, but they don’t have to.  They, too, can know this God, this only true God.  Salvation is for everyone.  And let it not be lost on us that this identification as God’s offspring speaks directly to humanity being created Imago Dei.  If people are the very image of God, there is no need for an inorganic rendering.  What an enormous misunderstanding, people of Athens and religious people of our time who want to paint a picture of who God is!  There is no need.  God has already done this by creating us in God’s very own image.”
        • Christ came to live and breathe and die and raise from the dead for all of humanity and Paul asserts the importance of the unity of humanity. This tells us of God’s displeasure with all prejudice, whether that be of the Jews and Greeks of the first century or the white and African Americans, the white and Middle-Eastern, the straight or the LGBTQI, the sinner or the saint of the 21st Century.

Conclusion:

  • To breathe out is to embody worship of God
  • If we truly love it will lead to obedient action
    • Story of person who loves poor people
  • We have these boxes but what do they matter if we are not going to do anything about it, really?!
  • “When we live as people of justice and love and holiness, we become a little picture – an icon – of what God looks like. Loving. Creative. Merciful. Faithful. Relational. Life-giving. When human beings live, by God’s grace, like Jesus – we are living the way God created us to live – fully alive; fully human.”

Response:

  • The God who we speak of is not inaccessible, one who looks on from far away just waiting to condemn the world, one who expects an altar and an idol, one whom humanity creates for the sake of revenge, power, and control, and one whom we could never fully know, because this god is as inanimate as stone.  This god is unreal.  The God we speak of is full of love and grace and truth and is calling us to recognize Him as the one true God by accepting Him, being in a relationship with Him, loving Him, and living our lives in reflection of Him.
  • If we are ever going to be able to reach our community and perhaps participate in Kingdom work through some of the things on these boxes, it begins with falling on our faces and recognizing the one true God that we have been searching for and calling out to Him for guidance, wisdom, and strength.
Breathe Out
Breathe Out
Breathe Out