LIVING IN THE LIKENESS
“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.”
– Bernard of Clairvaux
We have now come to this crossroads of worship theology, where one has to make a decision requiring consistency and not superficiality. As a worship leader in the Salvation Army, are you going to use your knowledge of the mystery of God for vanity and curiosity’s sake, or are you going to live it out? This is the ‘now what’ personal reflection portion of our series. Such is the query often asked once a sermon, devotional thought, or a parable has been shared. Knowledge of God does not culminate with the intellectual information obtained – obedient action needs to occur based on the divine truth shared and believed from our loving God (John 17:17).
Exercising our knowledge of the truth concerning worship theology is demonstrated by letting God’s Spirit lead us into the depths of holy living. Paul admonishes his mentee Timothy to beware of those who have a form of godliness, to be seen by people while rejecting the power that can make them godly.1 Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is the perfect example of holiness that pleased God the Father. His words found in Luke 6:46-49 gets to the crux of the shallowness some manifest as worship leaders.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”2
Our first doctrine states, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”
he keyword here – PRACTICE! Many of us have heard of the familiar adage ‘Practice what you preach’ or ‘practice makes permanent.’ Very real for believers yet, what are we to practice as worship leaders within the Salvation Army intentionally? The answer is the lifestyle of worship Jesus Christ lived – a holy, set apart, compassionate, steadfast, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, restful, forgiving, and the list of attributes goes on. Author T. J. Addington states, “The key to authenticity is the hidden work a leader does to grow and feed his or her inner life so that its overflow is healthy, consistent, and authentic” 3 spiritual disciplines.
This daily, consistent practice involves spiritual disciplines that draw the servant of Christ closer to His likeness. There are three I would love to ask you to either bring back or practice anew in your life. In our busy, restless world, how important is it for us to exercise the discipline of Sabbath – resting in God’s abundance? Author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Sadly, everything about us works against slowing down. Our compulsion to produce and not waste time invades the space God gave for us to rest… Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” 4 Do not get so caught up in doing that you neglect the importance of being in a close relationship with Jesus – burnout is real; ask a local officer near you for evidence.
Another spiritual discipline that will help you and I grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ is unplugging. The over-saturation of social media and the use of screens in our postmodern world has reached addictive proportions for God’s people of all ages. Calhoun shares, “In a world where people use the Internet an average of 30 hours a week and keep the TV or radio on 7.9 hours a day, we need to get unplugged from virtual reality and address our addiction to technology and the toxins it brings into our lives.”5 Satan desires nothing more than to see us distracted by virtuality rather than focus on being present to God and being present to real human faces.
Lastly, the spiritual discipline of confession and self-examination is paramount for us as worship leaders. Seeking to be like Jesus involves introspective, self-examining under the Holy Spirit’s influence. Sin impedes the continual transformation needed in our lives. Calhoun adds, “Self-examination is a process whereby the Holy Spirit opens my heart to what is true about me. This is not the same thing as a neurotic shame-inducing inventory. Instead it is a way of opening myself to God within the safety of his love so I can authentically seek transformation. Confession embraces Christ’s gift of forgiveness and restoration while setting us on the path to renewal and change.” 6 In addition to that, seek the counsel and accountability of another brother and sister in Christ, never isolate and become the enemy’s vulnerable prey.
God has called us to live holy lives, and as worship leaders, He uses us as vessels to lead His people into a lifestyle of holiness corporately and as individuals. Richard J. Foster notes, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”7 Worship theology makes us comprehend that Christlikeness comes from our ‘seeking’ God’s Kingdom above all else and living a disciplined, set-apart life (Matthew 6:33).
A life of spiritual depth and maturity increased by His Spirit’s leading, upon a firm foundation that will not give way as tempting trends and empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense abound (Colossians 2:8).
We are kingdom people with kingdom purposes under a divine agenda. At whichever corps you are ministering may you remain encouraged to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 8
Lead God’s people as Jesus Christ is personally leading you. Samuel Brengle said it best, “Holiness is more than pure living, it is pure love.” Love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and for our neighbors – the greatest commandment. Just do it! You corps needs you too and our Kingdom purpose as worship leaders in the Salvation Army necessitates that reciprocal, loving action.
We are kingdom people with kingdom purposes under a divine agenda.
SA Worship Magazine would like to thank Adely for writing the Worship Theology articles for the 2020 editions of the Magazine.
His writing has been insightful and challenging. We know that readers have been challenged and guided to be better leaders because of reading these articles.
Adely is the Divisional Music Director of the Florida Music and Arts Department.
1) 2 Timothy 3:5
2) Luke 6:46-49
3) T J. Addington, Deep Influence: Unseen Practices That Will Revolutionize Your Leadership (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014), 29.
4) Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 41-42.
5) Ibid., 87.
6) Ibid., 91.
7) Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
8) Ephesians 5:1-2
Addington, T J. Deep Influence: Unseen Practices That Will Revolutionize Your Leadership. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.
Baab, Lynne M. Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.