Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homily 8: On Worship and Faith as Products of Poverty (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Let the people praise thee, O God. Let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our God, shall bless us." Ps. 67:5-6

This is not a matter of pettiness. God is not waiting for flattery before He offers help. Worship is not a matter of flattery; it is a matter of faith. Worship is (at bottom) the acknowledgment of and accounting for the presence, power, and promises of God in the immediate circumstances of your life. To have faith is to recognize God's place as the everlasting variable in the formula of existence, and worship is the same kind of recognition. This is why worship/faith produces blessings: not because they are the magic words that get God on your side; but because God's goodness is always available to His children, but only those who ask will receive (Matthew 7:7). I ask you: what can you receive from one whom you do not acknowledge? What gifts or grace can you accept from one whom you actively ignore? If you are walking along in your despondency, and a compassionate passerby offers you a gift, but you ignore him and subsequently his gift, then who is to blame? The question is never whether or not God is willing to be good to us. God is always willing. The real question is whether we want His help or not.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Only the poor can receive, because they are completely aware of their need. Only the poor can believe, because they have no hope in themselves. The Christian life begins with an acknowledgment of our poverty and God's riches, and it continues along that same vein. Every household god or arm of flesh that we erect in place of God's bounty will be allowed to proceed so that it may collapse and reveal its impotence, reveal that there is no other rock except our God (Ps. 18:31). Only when we acknowledge our poverty outside of Him will we reach for the riches that He freely gives. Worship is faith. Faith is worship; and both are poverty. In both we acknowledge the utter weakness and crippling depravity of ourselves and the absolute strength and all-sufficient grace of God. May we believe so that we may receive what is always ours for the taking.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010

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