For years now I’ve been doing what we Christians call morning devotion or morning worship. Though there are suggested ways of doing it, most people follow a pattern that they have developed over the years. Mine is rather simple, I read the Bible and pray. This can be categorized as listening to God speaking through Scripture and talking to Him. I never know what to expect, but most of the time I find myself exegeting the text.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe in the separation of exegesis and worship. In fact, thinking properly about the text only enhances the worship experience, not demean it. Furthermore, I wonder why is worship often viewed as separate from Bible study. The big questions are, 1. What is worship? and 2. How should we worship? That is really a discussion for another time, so I will leave it for now (smile).
I’ve started reading Exodus a few days ago in my devotions, and today I reached chapter 5. My reflections were centered around work and worship. In a fast-paced, cut throat world, where financial entities are attempting to navigate away from the tsunami of economic doom, the Christian cannot lose sight of the importance of worship. The issues that usually come up are time and energy. Due to the hectic work load and the time that it requires, especially of those who work in the major cities, many say that they are too fatigued to maintain daily worship (or a beneficial form of it).
Though it is based on Jewish slavery in Egypt, Exodus 5 does contain some similarities to the modern world. In Exodus 5 Moses and Aaron’s attempt to gain religious liberty for the Jews fell on deaf ears. Pharaoh not only emphasized his lack of familiarity with their God, but he went on to the next logical conclusion in that sequence of thought, he will not listen to this God (Ex. 5:1-3). When a god is not viewed as your god, his demands will not be seen as authoritative to you.
Pharoah’s resolution was to increase the work load (Ex. 5:6-19). In a way, Pharaoh typifies the modern world’s unfamiliarity with God and its refusal to make adjustments for those who do. Sure there is religious liberty in America and other places, but they only reach so far. Religious liberty may help in the observance of the Sabbath but not help a single mother of two argue that she needs at least half an hour to pray with her children in the morning. When a government speaks about your rights, they are not referring to your rights as you see it or as God has decreed, but as is written in their laws.
Allow me to open a parenthesis here. There is another group of people who are not experiencing a conflict between worship and work. Though they may work hard at work, they still only have an 8 hour work day or less. The problem here, if they really want to have worship, is a lack of discipline. Simply saying discipline in this context is to draw attention to consistency in the action that needs to be taken, that of worship. However, in order for one to do what is necessary, then the necessity must be viewed as such, and that requires the awakening or the implantation of an ideology. To state it plainly, these people just don’t get it. What they are not doing reveals something about their true views of God. Close parenthesis.
In the modern workplace, religion, though it receives much lip service, is not generally viewed as meaningful. Even if a majority may claim that it is, they live by a code in which the all mighty dollar is the god behind the mask of their god. In other words, money making has become a religion, a religion that has made much inroad within Christianity. Employers are willing to deal with your religious musings and requirements but up to a certain extent. “Religion, Smuligion,”Everyone is content as long as their pockets are plenty with green.
Pharoah, in an attempt to cut down this religious movement at the roots, decided that he needed to have the Jews focusing on something. He figured that they had too much time on their hands for fanciful philosophy. He reasoned that the more work they had, the less time to think about “false words” (Ex. 5:9 NASB). His plan worked well, the spiritual leaders were shunned for the pain and suffering that their call to worship caused (Ex. 5:20, 21).
Not surprisingly, when spiritual leaders call for worship there is bound to be problems that will put believers at a crossroad between the faith and the norms of everyday life. What seems best to those under oppression is to attempt to relieve oneself of the misfortunes by reverting back to or calling for the secular norm, how things were before the call to worship. During these time, it is the same spiritual leader, who is shunned and despised, that heads off to pray for the trouble that has come upon the believers (Ex. 5:22, 23). Maybe it’s time we join them.