The Possibilities and Potential of a Beautiful Life
by Mark Votava
Worship is a confusing word to me. Most of the time, I have seen others refer to it as singing songs in a church building. I have a hard time reducing worship to singing songs. It doesn’t make sense to me and I have experienced this as really boring.
I don’t think that Jesus calls us to worship him this way. Maybe we are being led to experience our worship in the twenty-first century through community, through listening, through contemplation, through love and compassion in everyday life. To me, this inspires my imagination to new possibilities as I struggle with the deeper meanings of life.
It seems the traditional forms of church that I have known in life keep me from following the authentic path God is leading me to a lot of the time. I don’t believe what I have been taught anymore about life, God, success, church or worship. It seems misleading, disengaging and quite frankly boring. There has to be more to life than what I have been taught about these things?
- Opens us to awareness, mindfulness, love, compassion, humility, listening, contemplation, empathy and grace
A radical obedience as a lifestyle of worship opens us up to awareness, mindfulness, love, compassion, humility, listening, contemplation, empathy and grace. This is the kind of spirit that the mystical imagination longs for.
- Worship happens anywhere and everywhere
My dear friend Eileen Baura Suico says, “Worship happens anywhere and everywhere… Worship draws our attention to God, and at the same time, enables God to be encountered in the world.”
- Deeper meanings to everyday life
We start to understand things on deeper levels through a radical obedience in the parish. We begin to think about and reflect on deeper meanings to everyday life than what we had known.
- We desire more silence and solitude
We start to value people as if they mattered. Consumerism and entertainment become less interesting to us. We desire more time in silence and solitude. We start to have some imagination for an alternative to the status quo lifestyle.
- The spirit we bring to the things that we do
Our lives are not necessarily all about what we do, but about the spirit we bring to the things that we do. Do we bring a spirit of encouragement and inspiration to the things we do? Do we bring a spirit of joy and celebration to the things that we do? Do we bring a spirit of love and humility to the things that we do?
- A spirit of life, hope, peace, love, celebration and imagination
Our locality that we inhabit needs a spirit of life, hope, peace, love, celebration and imagination from the people who live there. The body of Christ in everyday life is called to bring this kind of spirit to our parish.
- Nowhere does Jesus call us to worship him
Innovative thinkers Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch encourage us to look at worship in this way as they write, “Nowhere does Jesus call us to worship him in the Gospels; what is clear is that he does demand obedience. Understood from a Hebraic perspective, obedience is the worship we should render him. When we merely approve of Jesus, take his side as if we can agree intellectually with what he is saying, we can easily domesticate his demands, making them into mere sayings and aphorisms of a wise man. They are far more dangerous and demanding than that.”
- Our longings and dreams for seeking God in the midst of everyday life
Christ calls us to worship him through a radical obedience as the body of Christ in the parish. Obedience is worship to Christ. At the heart of a radical obedience is our longings and dreams for seeking God in the midst of everyday life. We desire that God lives within us through the mystical imagination.
- Christ is dangerous to our boxes of safety and comfort
Christ wants us to develop a lifestyle of worship through a radical obedience. Christ is dangerous to the status quo lifestyle. Christ is dangerous to our boxes of safety and comfort.
- Our dualities that we hold will not survive
Christ is dangerous to us because our dualities that we hold will not survive. Christ is the destroyer of fabricated religious illusions in his name. We do not know what Christ will do through us if we allowed this mystery to live in our bodies without being oppressed.
- An obedience by grace
I remember when I first heard the word obedience as referring to what we were supposed to be striving after within Christianity. A friend of mine in college was talking a lot about it and it intrigued me. I started learning about an obedience by grace. I had always thought that grace was only for forgiveness.
- Creativity, passion, humility, love and intelligence
This obedience by grace opened up the possibilities for me to see that I can live for God with creativity, passion, humility, love and intelligence. I could reflect God’s image within me. I could follow the light, eat the bread of life, live in union with Christ, drink the water in which I would never thirst again. I didn’t understand all of this, but these ideas from scripture began to captivate my imagination.
- Living a beautiful life
Maybe I didn’t have to be just a “sinner.” Maybe I could actually live a beautiful life and seek God in obedience by grace. I wanted to follow, eat, live, listen and drink in this obedience. What did all of this mean?
- Open to exploring the potential and possibilities
I really didn’t know, but I was open to exploring the potential and possibilities that a radical obedience of grace would hold for me. Today, about twenty years later, I am learning to understand this radical obedience of grace, this lifestyle of worship, this mystical imagination through the body of Christ in the parish.
- An expression of love
I am not just a “sinner,” I am more than that. I am created in the image of God. I am an expression of love. I have a mystical imagination.
What do you think of a radical obedience as a lifestyle of worship?