You Can’t Hate Your Brother and Call Yourself a Worshipper

Today’s post is part two of the lesson I taught in my church’s youth class a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned last week, after teaching the lesson, I still felt the burden to share and to give a warning to my generation which is why I decided to post about. I gotta listen to IT, remember?

In case you missed the post I’m referring to, let me explain:

I was invited to teach on the subject of worship. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, so I didn’t struggle to come with a bunch of thoughts. In the first post of this two-part series, I talked about how terrifying some of the quotes I found in my research were. In this post, I want to talk about how raw and cutting the Scripture is and what it has to say about worship and love.


Betrayal is everywhere. It’s a bitter knife to the gut every time and leaves us hurting, angry and numb. Strange how you can feel both hurt and angry and numb all at once, isn’t it? The desire to never be hurt again creates a numbing barrier between our heart and the outside world.

Unfortunately, in the believer’s case, this barrier also comes between us and God.

I’ve talked in the past about the importance of forgiveness. It’s not a new concept to us and most believers are familiar with the verse that says “… if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15 ESV). I think, deep down, we always want to forgive each other, but what if we don’t follow through?

Until I started studying for this lesson, I never really put together the pieces of the salvation puzzle regarding worship and forgiveness. Now that I get it, I’ve noticed a new depth to my worship, a new charge or spark or fire. I’m in a new realm when I lift my hands and heart to the Heavens.

I want that for all of us. But it’s hard to get and, worse, hard to keep. Let me explain.

Worship is adoration.

That’s what makes it different than praise. You can praise someone you don’t like, all you have to do is compliment them. You can’t worship someone unless you adore them. It’s beyond pleasant words or action, it’s an all-consuming love. So consuming that it results in action.

You’ve probably heard it said that “worship is a lifestyle.” This simple phrase bears a much weightier truth. True adoration evokes consistent action.

When you fall head over heels in love, what do you spend your time doing? When I fell in love with Mr. MTBR (this is a reference to my work-in-progress memoirs which none of you but myself will get.. sorry 🙂 ), it looked something like this:

  • Wake up, remember last night’s conversation with Mr. MTBR, say a prayer for him and wonder how his day will go
  • Work, get a text or call from Mr. MTBR, commence daydreaming about the next time I’ll see/talk to him
  • Lunch break, drive home and hear a sappy love song or quote on the radio, smile to myself thinking about the memory of Mr. MTBR it sparks, whisper a quick prayer that his day is going well
  • Back to work, wonder every time my phone buzzes if it’s Mr. MTBR and if we’ll get the chance to catch up on the phone before bed, per sort-of-tradition
  • Off work, head home to eat dinner and watch Netflix then take off to spend time with friends or go to church, all the whilst wondering what Mr. MTBR is doing with his evening
  • Get ready for bed, text Mr. MTBR to see if he’s up for a chat, he usually is, hang up and fall asleep daydreaming about the possibility of the word “future”

Now that was a sickeningly sappy version of love. I didn’t mention the parts where life got really hard and he came through for me, or the parts where it got worse and he didn’t, but I loved him all the same. Love is more than a feeling, it’s a commitment and you choose to be in or out of it.

Anyway, the point is, love evokes action and thought. It’s not something you feel once a day or week or month. You think about the object of that love throughout the day. Now this kind of love, human love, is built on the concept of equality in worth.

Worship takes it a step further. It’s only in existence when you are less worthy than the One you’re worshiping. That knowledge creates an obsessive and extreme adoration for the One who is higher, which evokes action. In other words, when you truly adore God (that One who is higher), you spend your day constantly loving Him and reverentially loving on Him and therefore, your lifestyle becomes one of worship.

Worship and love have a lot more in common. Have you ever noticed that when you love someone and get in a fight with someone they care about, it affects your relationship with them? Things become stilted and awkward, you have a harder time relating to one another. Once again, it’s the same thing with worship.

Worship connects believers to one another. It is key in revival, not just because of how it evolves our relationship with the Object (a word which here means “Incredible, All-Consuming Spiritual Force that gives life to all and can take it away with a single thought”) of our worship, but also because it unites us together. When all of us are not thinking of ourselves, rather the God of the world, we are focused in mind and purpose – we are in one accord (Acts 2:1-5).

There is no more pure unity than in when we come together in worship. Take a moment to reflect on the times you felt closest to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Was it around the altar?

There is something about worship that causes us to forget ourselves and finally think of others first. When you realize that you are nothing in comparison to the One whom your heart adores, it’s easier to let your pride and ambition go. It’s easy to love one another, but sometimes hurt creeps it’s way into the picture.

Jesus was clear that the first great commandment is to love “the Lord your God” and the second is to “love your neighbor…” (Luke 10:27). There’s a reason those commandments are in the order they’re in. When you love God, when you worship Him, you automatically love your brothers and sisters.

Have you ever experienced what I call a “Holy Ghost high” after an incredible service and altar call? A Holy Ghost high looks a little something like this: You’re overflowing with love for God, gushing about how wonderful He is, and exuberantly participating in conversation with your friends. Suddenly, after being so entirely enraptured by the love of the One you adore, you find within yourself an endless stream of tolerance and love for the people with whom you just shared that experience.

This is how you, and the world, can tell if you are genuinely worshiping:

You will have love for each other.

1 John talks about this very thing, though I never realized it in the past:

 if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

Do you remember that verse that talks about believers worshiping God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)? Have you ever wondered what the “truth” part meant? I have, and after a lot of prayer and prep for this lesson, it stuck me. What if that truth is what the passage we just read says: love.

I felt fairly dumb about my realization after reading the next verse that literally says this:

… and this is how we know that we are of the truth… (1 John 3:19)

That makes so much sense, doesn’t it? To worship God in spirit is to allow our souls to love Him, and to do it in truth is to love one another.

#mindblown

When this began to sank in, I immediately began wondering what it means for us if we don’t love each other. I didn’t have to look long, just rewind to a couple verses earlier in the passage:

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

Let me rephrase this in layman’s terms, shall I?

If you don’t love your brother, you’re a child of the freaking devil.

HOLY CRA- er..  insert some sanctified exclamation here.

I mean, the Bible has always been clear on the importance of loving your brother, I guess I just wasn’t ready to see it. There are consistently references to God refusing us if there are things between us and others in the body of Christ. One of the most plain and painful Scriptures is in Matthew. Let’s replace the word “gift” here with “worship” to make it even more obvious.

So if you are offering your [worship] at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your [worship] there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your [worship]. (Matthew 5:23-24)

God is pretty serious about this whole thing. But just to lighten the mood, I’ll rephrase:

“Don’t even bother worshiping Me if you’re just gonna be all irked by your bro, yo.”

This is what makes worship so unifying- because it can’t be done with bitterness and anger towards your sister or brother. It can only be done in grace. When we love God, when we truly adore Him (Who, by the way, is Love – just check out 1 John 4:8), we love each other.

I’ll end with this wonderful, beautiful encouragement:

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:21-24)

“This is how all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” -Jesus, the God whose love was so great that He died for us.

What are your thoughts? Please keep it friendly. 😉

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You Can’t Hate Your Brother and Call Yourself a Worshipper

5 Ways to Tell if Your Friendship has Become an Affair of the Heart

I’m afraid. I don’t really want to post this, but God is shoving on my heart a burden that won’t ease. I don’t want to say any of this to my readers, especially because I know you’ll think I’m judging you when I’m not because I’ve been there, but God is pressing really hard. I don’t want to offend anyone, but someone must speak up.

So here goes nothing and everything at once:

Guys and girls can’t be friends when they’re committed to someone else. It’s simply not okay.

We no longer know what a relationship is or what boundaries they hold. I know I’ll get flack for posting just that alone. I know people will angrily justify their actions as they read the remainder of this post, if they’ll even continue. But I have to voice what is in my heart.

First, I need to confess.

I’m not perfect or in any place to judge people who make relational mistakes. I’ve cheated emotionally on previous guys by being too friendly with other guys. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t cheating, but it was, because I was turning to the wrong gentleman for assurance, comfort and laughter (even though it’s less important, it is still relationally significant).

While in previous relationships, I convinced myself that I could be friends with any guy (because I am female, hear me roar) but would soon find myself falling down the slippery slope of flirtatious behavior. I would tell my main guy that I had no feelings for the guy I was chatting with on the side, even as I was starting to fall. Sure, I told myself that I wasn’t falling.. but here’s the thing:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..

– Jeremiah 17:9

The unfortunate thing about sin is that it has tainted our hearts so that we deceive even ourselves. We can convince ourselves that something about us isn’t true because we simply don’t want it to be true. Yet if we examine the depths of our hearts, we must acknowledge what is hidden there.

I’ve done that. I understand how hard it is. I understand that it can be accidental. But those are just excuses.

I didn’t even realize I had begun to cheat. A few phone calls, a few text messages, a random Facebook poke, and before I knew it I was wiling away the hours dreaming about the wrong guy. The guy who supposed to be just a friend.

This realization (that was beat through my head by Jesus – thanks, Lord!) opened my eyes to so much about relationships. I refuse to make the same mistake again and have made perimeters to guard myself. The most important one? My guy friends now know that the second I’m in a relationship, we will no longer chat or hangout unless in a group setting- we don’t text, call, IM, Facebook poke, etc.

I love my guy friends. They’re the best! They have big strong shoulders for crying on, they make the best jokes, they’ve got that insight that ladies crave, and they can make a terrible day good with a little text. But I am happy to give all that up because

I don’t want to be the girl that makes my guy doubt.

After a lot of internal debating, I can’t ignore the urge to share this so that you can also examine your situation and rebuild integrity if, in your heart, you find deceit lurking.

Is this whole thing actually important?

YES.

People are getting hurt every day. I know of countless people who are traumatized by past relationships that ended in cheating or current relationships that are barely surviving because of cheating. It’s hurting our ability to trust, to have peace, to love one another wholeheartedly. You can’t be wholehearted if even 1% your heart is distracted.

That’s not even to mention the current divorce rate (okay, let’s mention it: 40-50% of marriages succumb to divorce) of which a large portion are caused by affairs (almost half, to be precise).

And if those reasons aren’t enough to go out of your way to ensure you’re not cheating, let’s remember that:

Cheating is sin, and you don’t have to have physical contact to cheat.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

-Matthew 5:28

Jesus said that so much as looking at a woman and entertaining your attraction to her is adulterous. Adultery is enough to land someone in hell. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

So important, in fact, that the following verse says this:

 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

-Matthew 5:29

Cheating isn’t a joke. It’s life threatening and it hurts people.

The problem with “we can be friends” is that it leads you to believe it’s okay to emotionally invest in someone who is not your partner. It’s not okay to turn to Fred with all your heart’s pain when you’re committed to Bob. Bob deserves to be your shoulder, even if his name is Bob and that makes you think of the tomato from Veggie Tales.

But more importantly, why would you put yourself at risk? Decided to text a “friend” every day when committed to someone else is like smoking a cigarette everyday and assuming you’ll not become addicted. Sure, there’s a chance that you’re immune, but the probability is that you’re not – so why risk it?

I know you’re thinking “we’re just dating so it’s not even that big of a deal” but consider the fact that everyone and their mom will tell you that “dating is practice for marriage” and if you’re not willing to change your friendships when it’s something as short term as dating, why do you think you’ll have the strength to end them for something as long term as marriage?

If you won’t take my word for it, at least ask Harry and Sally what they think about all this.

5 Ways to Tell if Your Friendship has become an Affair of the Heart:

#1: if you’re asking whether or not you are cheating or whether or not your friendship with so-and-so is a bad idea

#2: if you’re going to him/her instead of the person you’re dating/married to when either good orbad things happen

#3: if you speak poorly of or complain about your committed partner to him/her

#4: if you’re unwilling to give up the friendship should your partner ask it

#5: If the thought crosses your mind that you would be happier with him/her rather than your committed partner and you entertain that thought
BONUS: If you’re wiling away the hours daydreaming about him/her rather than your committed partner
What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever been affected emotionally by “just a friend,” either your own or your partner’s?
5 Ways to Tell if Your Friendship has Become an Affair of the Heart

What about love?

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts, statuses and tweets going around from outraged Christians on all sorts of topics. So many of us are angry about the world we’re living in. I get it, I’m angry too.

But there is a key element that has been missing in our expressed opinions of the political situation of our nation, the decision Target made to welcome transgenders in restrooms of all types, and the Obamacare and welfare systems so many of us abhor. What about love?

Ephesians 4:15- “But speaking the truth in love…”

It seems that every day I go online and find more Christians statusing “you’re a wimp if you don’t boycott Target” or suggesting you’ll burn in hell if you vote for Trump or any of the democrats. Occasionally, I hear people rampage on it in person (though less frequently because it’s a lot easier to do from the safety of our home or office). I don’t take issue with people passionately expressing themselves. Lord knows I do it (hence the blog). BUT. I do take issue with people passionately/angrily expressing themselves in a way that will affect their witness to our world.

I wish I was kidding about the extreme opinions I’ve heard Christ-followers express directly at those who don’t follow Him, either face to face or on social media (a supposedly repercussion-free zone).

A lot of Christians are becoming more and more like the Westboro Baptist Church they mock, the church they don’t want to be associated with because of their infamous hatred. But these Christ-followers’ actions and words express the same hatred they claim to despise, even if they don’t directly state it.

We’re so angry.

But it’s time to stop letting it affect our witness.

The thing is, the only time I see Jesus addressing sin in Scripture is to express the importance of repentance. He wasn’t hateful, bashing or rude. He was calm, loving and gentle.

When the Pharisees and Sadducees (the ‘church’ of His time) started berating people (fornicators, beggars, tax collectors) He would rise to the sinner’s defense:

John 8:7- “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Luke 3:11- “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

Luke 19:7-9 – “they all murmured, saying, That [Jesus] was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner… [Zacchaeus] said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house…”

Now some of you are thinking about the time that Jesus called people “serpents” and “hypocrites” (Matthew 23) but let’s not forget who He was addressing when He used those words- the ‘church’.

Some of you are thinking about the time Jesus called a woman a “dog” but let’s not forget it was done to test her faith and we are not God so it’s not our job to do that.

Jesus came to extend grace:

John 3:16-17- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

So why do we struggle so much to be loving instead of condemning?

I get it that you’re mad. I’m also mad. But expressing that anger will never solve anything and it certainly won’t win souls. Paul said “be ye angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26) and to “let not your good be evil spoken of” (Romans 14:16).

I’m preaching to the choir. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve statused something only to go back and delete it.

But I also can’t tell you how many times I had to shut up and listen while people unleashed pent-up anger they had because the church hurt them in some way. I hear people blaspheme God because His church doesn’t represent Him like Jesus expected. Incidentally, He expected them to know us by our love (John 13:35). I can’t be a part of that any longer and I can’t sit silently while I watch my brothers and sisters behave that way either.

It’s time we stop making excuses for our childish behavior. It’s time we stop angrily defending our cases on social media and in public. Jesus didn’t come to establish a kingdom on earth but one in Heaven (John 18:36) so let’s try to keep that priority in check.

I challenge you to think carefully before each status you post, each blog you publish, each tweet you… well, tweet.

Is what you’re about to say aimed to establish an earthly or heavenly kingdom? Will it draw people to God or will it make them blaspheme His name?

Everything we say should be good, edifying and most importantly, it should minister grace to all who hear it.

Ephesians 4:29- “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

What about love?