Thoughts on Thursday – The Heart of the Gospel

I often like to share various quotes from things I’m reading.  I find it helpful for my own reflection to pull out highlights, and I hope you find it beneficial and stimulating in your own thoughts and understanding of seemingly random topics.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

As many of you know, I have become a big fan of the work of Miroslav Volf, a Croatian, christian theologian out of Yale Divinity School.  I find his perspective illuminating on so many fronts its hard to nail down why I like him so much.  The next few quotes will come from his book, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation.  I may say this often, but I truly do believe that this is a book worth owning, reading, digesting, assimilating and making your own.

This weeks thought has to do with what I perceive to be at the heart of the gospel – the reconciliation of God and man, and its implications for our own consideration of or “enemies”.  Enjoy!

“Much more than just the absence of hostility sustained by the absence of contact, peace is communion between former enemies.  Beyond offering forgiveness, Christ’s passion aims at restoring such communion – even with the enemies who persistently refuse to be reconciled…

At the heart of the cross is Christ’s stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in himself for the offender to come in.”

Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 126.

Worship Reflections Part 2: Implications of God-Centered Worship

What does God-centered worship mean and what are its implications?

Put simply, worship that is God-centered is worship that revolves around and proceeds from God, not any human ingenuity, program, paradigm or plan.  It keeps and maintains that the highest end and the compelling reason to worship is God Himself – responding to who He is and what He has done.

So what then are the implications of God-centered worship?  I think Marva Dawn, in her book A Royal “Waste” of Time has several insights in the following quote I have found helpful in thinking along these lines; she writes:

I think our churches need to do much deeper thinking about what it means to worship God, what it means to nurture and to live the life of faith, what it means to be a Christian community that offers alternatives to the world, and how we can best reach out to our neighbors with the gospel and in service to them.  In order to do all that we have to stop asking which style of music to use and ask instead what will help us keep God at the center.

God-centered worship has then the following implications:

1.    God honoring
2.    Character developing
3.    Alternative-community forming
4.    Mission equipping
5.    Kingdom extending

These are implications rather then characteristics .  What I mean is that when our worship of God has Him as the subject and object, when He is the center of our worship, it will honor God in His worthiness and glory over the world, develop our character as His people following after Jesus in the world, form our corporate life into an alternate community within the world, equip us for our mission to participate in God’s saving, restoring gospel work to the world, and extend His reign and rule throughout the world.

These are the results we should see and expect when we have God as the center of our worship.