The Holy in the commonplace

The title of Tuesday’s Bible study in the book that I’m going through (Uncommon Vessels by Elyse Fitzpatrick) was “Uncommon Service,” and the main point was this:  Where do I fail to see the holiness in my Christian walk?  In other words, what parts of my spiritual life or Christian walk have become commonplace, ordinary, ho-hum, drudgery?  Wow.  This really made me think.  And since it really made me think, I wonder if anyone else really needs to think about this.  Let me point out the areas of my life that immediately jumped to my mind, and see if you, like me, are guilty of turning the holy into commonplace.

The first “spiritual duty”–for lack of a better term–that I thought of as one that I’ve let become common instead of holy was simply going to church.  I have gone to church all my life.  And not just here and there, but almost every Sunday, week in and week out.  For that reason alone, going to church can start to seem ordinary.  But going to church is a holy act–it is where I am to worship my Lord with brothers and sisters in Christ, where we are to come together in the fellowship of believers to learn and worship corporately.  Scripture warns us not to neglect going to church, but while I am not guilty of neglecting it, I certainly don’t always approach each meeting time with the attitude that this is holy, this is for the Lord.  And I suspect that many other people don’t either.  For evidence, I need to list no further than this:  have you ever heard anyone (or yourself) complaining about the worship service?  And I don’t mean complaining about doctrinal error or unbiblical practice.  I mean complaining about music style, preaching style, poor powerpoint operation, mistakes in the instruments or singing, the preacher going too long, what someone said to you or didn’t say to you, the behavior of someone’s kid during the service, and on and on and on.  If I approach worship services with a commonplace attitude, then all of these little things are going to be in my focus, simply because my focus has nothing to center on.  But if I approach the worship service with the attitude that this is holy, this is mandated by Scripture as one of the primary ways for me to worship the God Who created me, redeemed me, sustains my every breath, and promises to bring me into glory for all eternity, then very little of that list is going to steal my focus because my focus will be centered on joyful worship of my Lord.  Yes, there will be distractions-that is inevitable.  But distractions cannot steal your focus unless you let them.  If you find yourself constantly thinking of things in that list or things like that list when you think of “worship service” or “church attendance,” then I would say that there is a good chance that you have taken what should be holy and made it commonplace.

The other example that popped into my mind almost simultaneously–and it is closely related–was serving in the church family.  Assuming you have some role of service in your church (which you absolutely should), how do you approach your times of service?  Is it drudgery?  Is it habit?  Is it something that you complain about, or make sure that everyone knows exactly how much work you did?  Or is it a holy and joyful act of worship and service to your Lord?  Serving in the church, whatever the job is, is holy.  It is an act of worship, it is an act of service to the Lord and to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and oftentimes to unbelievers.  Do you look at your service in the church as holy or as commonplace?  If you absolutely cannot approach your duties in the church with a joyful attitude, then maybe you have the wrong duties.  Maybe you should say no to some of the acts of drudgery that you do only because you think you are supposed to do them, and let someone who may be more suited for that job and therefore will approach it with joy and humility step up and have your place.  Then you will be free to find a place to serve that suits your gifts and interests, one that you will view as a holy duty unto the Lord.

Now, in case you already find yourself thinking that viewing church attendance or service as ordinary or commonplace is not really a big deal, let me share with you the examples from Scripture that were referenced in the Bible study.  First, look in Leviticus 10.  All Nadab and Abihu did was light a censer, lay incense on it and offer it to the Lord when He hadn’t told them to do so.  In other words, they performed a service, a job in the church that they weren’t supposed to.  What happened?  The Lord killed them on the spot.  Apparently, serving wrongly is a big deal.  Now look in 1 Samuel 2.  Eli’s sons ate more of the sacrifices than they were supposed to.  Doesn’t seem like a huge, thing, right?  What happened?  The Lord not only killed them (later, not on the spot), but he cut off the line of Eli from the priesthood forever.  Apparently, serving wrongly is a big deal.  And although my Bible study didn’t reference them, Scripture is full of warnings regarding worshipping wrongly–just read 1 Corinthians for starters.  Apparently, worshipping wrongly is a big deal.  Finally, look at 1 Peter 2:9-10.  If you are a Christian, what does this verse say about you?  You are chosen, royal, holy, a person for God’s own possession.  As a Christian, nothing you do should be done with a “commonplace” attitude, least of all corporate worship and service in the church!!  So if you, like I did, find yourself looking at church attendance, serving in the church, or any other part of your spiritual walk (personal quiet time?  family Bible time?  tithing?  just loving people who are hard to love?) with an attitude of “commonplace,” maybe you need to, like I needed to, remind yourself of the holiness of those commonplace things.  Focus on His Holiness, and remember that all of your life is to be lived out as worship to Him, to bring Him glory.  A life lived with that perspective will be no commonplace life.

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