Hello. My name is LeAnne and I am a criticizer. Truth be told, my default reaction tends toward griping, whining, and complaining. If I lived during the time of the Exodus, I’d have been a statistic—one of the many grumblers who faced punishment at the mighty hand of Jehovah God . . . the same God who constantly provided for, protected, spared, and disciplined such an ungrateful, motley crew.
But I sense that God may be teaching me. He’s patiently molding, and shaping this lump of clay to look more like His Son Jesus.
I saw a glimpse of it on Sunday while attending a church service very different from the one I’m used to. Rather than go into details of the differences between the churches, let me elaborate on the change in my reaction. Here are three highlights:
Instead of fussing about the music, I found myself reveling in the lyrics.
Instead of nit-picking the message, I listened for application.
Instead of finding fault in the dissimilarities of the service, I recognized the culture it represented.
On the way home, I told my husband how much I enjoyed everything. Knowing my propensity to criticize, he rightfully asked, “What’s happened to you?”
After thinking about it a moment or two, I smiled and responded, “I’ve had a shift in perspective.”
You see, I’m two weeks into a course called Perspectives, and it’s tweaking my perspective. Paradigms are shifting and “Aha!” moments seem to occur regularly. Not coincidentally, the first few weeks of the course focus heavily on Biblical accounts and principles. And, when you are reading/studying God’s Word, you can pretty much count on His ways infiltrating your own:
“For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
During week one, we saw throughout Scripture that God is a God on mission. He’s purposeful–blessing us so that we can bless others. We can live significant lives when we devote ourselves to a purpose larger than our own life.
This week, we’ve focused on God’s passion—His glory. He reveals His glory to all nations in order to receive glory from all nations.
Ultimately, God’s purpose intersects with His passion—desiring to bring about obedient, love-filled, life-giving worship among the people and places of the world.
While sitting in a small, country church, a facet of this concept penetrated my critical heart. Let’s see if I can articulate my jumbled thoughts . . .
Revelation 14:6-7 gives us a glimpse of heaven. It’s here where we see God’s plan that all nations, tribes, and languages be present. Since God desires such a vast array of people to worship Him —we can expect that He accepts diversity in their worship of Him. In fact, our creative Creator God loves diversity! Creation itself proclaims this truth (see Psalm 148). So creativity and diversity in worship is a beautiful way to glorify God! Putting these pieces together allowed me to take off my lens of criticism and see the culture of that particular church as they expressed themselves in their unique worship.
Steven C. Hawthorne says it this way:
“Within the vision of God’s glory lies the substance of true unity between churches. With a jealousy for unique glory to come to God from every people, we can easily set aside demands for uniformity of worship and conduct. We can delight in the variety of styles of righteousness, peace, and joy, while increasing in jealousy for the commonly confessed singular truth in the person of Christ.”
As I sat in the church service, my cultural diversity radar seemed heightened, and God gave me a vision, of sorts. I pictured a parent receiving gifts from their little children. One brought a dandelion he had picked; one gave a drawing; another sang a song; and yet another crawled up in her parent’s lap and sat contentedly. Each child uniquely expressed their love . . . diversely expressed their love–yet they all showed unity by focusing their attention on God.
So to answer my husband’s question, “What’s happened to you?” That critical spirit has been stymied a bit. How? By opening my eyes to His glory.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.
Psalm 148 (ESV)
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.[a]
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!