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Known as God’s distinctive community

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

You finally have a moment of peace and can enjoy time for yourself. Your options are nearly limitless. Grab a book. Tune into a podcast. Binge-watch a new series. Scroll through your social media feed. It’s all there, limitless options right at your fingertips. Choices curated and customized for you personally.

Worship for self-fulfillment

In a world that encourages you to choose and express your own identity, your social communities can deepen your self-expression. Where you go and what you choose to do there can reinforce your tendency to look inward. Spiritual communities can be venues where your personal choices help fill your needs.

It’s no surprise to see that many within the wider Christian community have tapped into expectations for spiritual fulfillment. Market-driven worship reflects a concert atmosphere. Media-savvy services deliver messages that inspire on the level of a TED Talk. Believers assemble for a time that can be as entertaining as it is exciting.

You can find yourself slipping into the attitudes expressed by celebrities who highlight their church attendance to become better versions of themselves. A-list Hollywood actors influence you to find practical value in an every-Sunday church habit. Some weeks you feel like you didn’t get much out of church. Other times you feel fulfilled.

Worship as the body of Christ

In an on-demand world, our spiritual lives can conform or stand out. A Christian community can be known as the body of Christ. As “God’s elect, exiles” (1 Peter 1:1), God’s people have an opportunity to be known as a distinctively Christian community. As “a chosen people . . . called . . . out of darkness into his wonderful light,” Christian communities can reflect the unique character they have in the world.

As a Christian submitting yourself to Bible teachings that sometimes make you uncomfortable and upset your personal preferences, you can reflect that same humility in your church community. Your church practices conform to the truths of who God is and your relationship to him. Media and marketing trends take a back seat to transcendent truths you need to hear. Your habits in church can stand out in the world in a refreshingly positive way.

Your participation in worship can redirect you to your identity in Christ.

When worship begins, your self-chosen identity is overcome by your baptismal incorporation into the body of Christ. Confessing your sin and your sinfulness takes you out of your impulses of looking to have your personal needs met. Finding forgiveness in Jesus brings you what you most desperately need. The Word of God proclaimed in law and gospel speaks authoritatively over your opinions and feelings. Singing together with fellow Christians allows you to communicate to one another the truths of God’s Word. Praying with and for Christians around the world unites you in heart and mind, reminding you of your dependence on God. When you observe a baptism and participate in the Lord’s Supper, you get to see God’s power in action beyond what is merely visible. Worship practices shape us. Habits break down tendencies to adopt cultural assumptions.

In a world where you can sit back and soak up a customized array of personal options, your faith community can stand apart. Your participation in worship can redirect you to your identity in Christ. Your church gathered together can be known as a distinctive Christian community.

Author: Jeffrey Enderle
Volume 110, Number 9
Issue: September 2023

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This entry is part 8 of 60 in the series devotion

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