Tim Keller once said “Sin isnʼt only doing bad things; it’s more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry”.
As humans, we so often take “good things” like careers and make them into “ultimate things” that are our source of fulfilment. Before this pandemic hit, this could describe how many of us were operating. We had lost sight of what truly matters and got away from the ‘heart of worship’. This lockdown period has given many of us opportunity to reconsider what is important and to put Jesus back in His rightful place in our lives.
During this season, I heard a useful analogy to help us think about this more. It is said that if you want to become a great chess player, you should start by removing your own queen. For anyone who knows the game of chess (I’ve had to do some research myself) this seems like bizarre advice given the queen is the most powerful piece on the board. Yet by removing the queen you will learn what all the other elements of the chess table can do on a chess board and how to fully utilise them. Then, when you put your queen back in you’ve learned to become a champion without over relying on a singular function.
“Once you’ve mastered the game without the most powerful piece, then put the queen back in and see how good you are!”
In a recent interview, Australian author Alan Hirsch compared this to the church. When we think about the ‘best piece’ or the ‘queen’ for the church, we think about our Sunday gatherings, something which has been removed from us for the last four months. Hirsch shares that this is almost like God has taken the queen away so that we would learn to maximise the value of all the other pieces and what they can be to the body of Christ.
In Revelation 2:3-4, we are told:
3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
These people had the right doctrine, the right work ethic but they didn’t have the right heart. The key word here isn’t love, it is first. It’s not that they didn’t love but that love wasn’t the centre point. First love indicates passion and priority, it’s the love God had found them dwindling in. Duty had replaced devotion and style had replaced substance.
We are creatures of habit. If we don’t find ways to remind ourselves why we do what we do, we’re prone to just go through the motions, if not adopt some new underlying motivation altogether.
Whilst everything is stripped back in our churches and also our lives, let’s refocus, recentre and return to the ‘heart of worship’.
Listen to The Heart of Worship (Matt Redman) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XsB0ltXmRs