The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity, what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight. - Spurgeon Morning and Evening (8th Jan)
What a slap in the face. What a cold bucket of water. To know it lingers in the back of your mind is easy to ignore most of the time. We make up nonsensical excuses to explain our shortcomings or just point-blank deny their existence. Its not even a Sunday morning mask, it's much more inherent than that, like a piece of code written into my DNA - The We're Grand Code. Yet to see such a list of shameful motivations and to feel each syllable sting has really taken my breath away. When you look at the maps in shopping centres / Zoos / Theme Parks they have the helpful note on that says "YOU ARE HERE" with a little arrow. Well as I read through Spurgeon's scourging language (written well over a hundred years ago) I am made aware of the big pointy sign which reads "YOU ARE HERE".
Hypocrisy - ALTON YOU ARE HERE
Selfishness - ALTON YOU ARE HERE
Carelessness - ALTON YOU ARE HERE etc...
There's a brilliant episode of Family Guy where Peter gets caught lying about something (I can't remember what), but this character then pops up throughout the episode to point at Peter saying "You're a phoney - this guy's a phoney". I spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder waiting for that man to appear and point the finger at me and shout "Phoney - this guys a great big phoney"
I can bluff my way through leading worship - chose the right songs, come up with the right arrangements, say the right things between songs - and yet underneath be this spiritual cripple. No that's not right. I don't know what the crusty stuff on the roof of an old, unwashed microwave is called but that's how I feel sometimes - spiritually like that microwaved crusty stuff.
Yet God still calls me his son. In my weakness his strength is perfected (2 Cor 12 v 9). He picks me up dusts me off and tells me again about how much he loves me. And before I can say the words 'Sorry' out loud his arms are around me.
I hope that The Spirit of God continues to slap me across the face - be it through Spurgeon or anyone else he wishes to use. I don't want to be on autopilot, especially when it comes to worshiping God. I want to be grateful for each breath and when I sing I want to feel each lyric of a song or every rise and fall in the music. I want to lead not by choosing the right songs or arrangements but by being a true worshiper - in Spirit and in Truth (John 4 v 23).