Our experiences with the Holy Spirit generally happen in one of two venues: in a group setting or when we are alone.
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If your spiritual life is only ever expressed in private, you are missing something wonderful! Even if you are wired in your personality to be very shy or reserved, there are ways you can open up and participate in a corporate setting. It doesn’t demand that you be the center of attention; conversely, it demands that you enter in and cooperate with what the others are doing. You actually stand out less!
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I dare my shy friends to just take a small step out and participate a little more than you are currently allowing yourself. Even a small step is progress! Pray out loud during the corporate prayer times; sing along with the worship songs, raise your hands, allow yourself to enter in on a new level. Simply do more.
I frequently ask myself this question in worship, “Is my pride comfortable right now?”
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Now, not everyone who avoids spiritual community does so out of timidity. Some disengage from corporate worship all together; they don’t merely attend as a disengaged spectator–they don’t attend anymore at all! I am deeply disturbed with a growing trend of people disconnecting from corporate church gatherings. I understand that they have possibly been hurt by some past church experience or leader. In listening to many of these folks, I have discovered that the premise for “de-churching” is ALWAYS based on negative experiences, NOT what the Bible says:
“ And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT
Do you see how this goes hand-in-hand with not wanting to humble yourself?
“I don’t want to ever go there again…”
“They don’t treat me with respect there…”
“They don’t recognize my gifts…”
“That church is full of hypocrites…” (Good! Then we can all fit in well!)
Do these sound familiar? The next step is stepping away. Then, exalting our negative experiences over Scripture, we feel justified by our excuse–surely we are the EXCEPTION to the Biblical mandate of corporate worship!
By that point, pride has a deep foothold. Maybe if we planted ourselves in the place we know we belong, we would reap the benefits that we really desire?
Perhaps it’s time to reassess our spiritual routine…AGAIN! It requires constant attention and calibration…for all of us.
What do you think?