Have you noticed that just about everything in our world can be automated for us?
Automatic transmissions are the norm and most of us never learn to drive standard. It seems almost awkward to me to have to actually flush my own toilet in a public restroom; sensors reduce my responsibility to nearly nothing. When will there be automatic toilet paper dispensers too?
Automatic means “having the capacity of starting, operating, moving, etc. independently; involuntary; done unconsciously from force or habit; mechanical; occurring independently of volition.”
Automatic Relations with God
The part of the definition that says “done unconsciously from force or habit” most applies to our relationships with God.
Drawing near to God each moment of the day – being consciously intentional with a pure devotion rising from the core of our heart – compelling ourselves to seek our First Love… is not an automatic lifestyle.
Our efforts in this relationship are certainly never independent. We are subject to Him moving in us. But our dependence doesn’t excuse an unintentional, automatic, irresponsible posture somewhere within the proximity of His throne. We must make ourselves available and quickly responsive to His movement.
Automatic Church Service
Unfortunately, I think a big area that we have an automatic expectation is in church. There’s a settled format after centuries of churches across the world to sing, greet your neighbor, read Scripture, pray, preach, sing, lunch.
I’m not against the format, I’m talking about how we approach the service. We reduce participation when church service happens for us. The masses in the pew need take no responsibility for serving in church when it’s a well oiled independently operating machine.
Recently at UT, we had our All Campus Worship. This was wonderful and powerful. We all just love it when the ministries gather to devote to God. This service would not have come to fruition if not for the ministers and especially the students who worked for several months.
I hope we are all tremendously grateful for their efforts on behalf of the church. They did not treat church unity like an automatic force. They participated with God and worked with intentionality. We all should not just follow their lead to worship in the plaza, but we should also follow their example of conscious devotion to God and service to each other.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, til we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
… Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him Who is the Head – Christ – from Whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
This will happen! It will happen when we cut off from our soul the automatic habits of our faith. It will happen when we switch our goal from what we want (or demand) happens to us through God’s actions or though the mechanisms of the church and instead focus on what we can supply.
This will happen when we all, each and every person, supply to Jesus with steadfast intentionality what He has given us for service. This will happen when we commit to each other as a church body, seeking out the ways we can edify God’s congregation.
When each person (and as a result each congregation) quits the automatic, involuntary gestures and begins to supply their whole gifting with their whole mind, heart, soul, and strength, then united moments like All Campus Worship can develop into true All Worshiping movements unto the full measure of the statue of Christ!