The question is literally are you ceremonious in worship. By that I mean, do you go through all the right motions, say the right things, and perform as though you have somehow pleased God because of what you have done? If so the concept that author Greg Paul addresses in his book Resurrecting religion, Finding our way back to the good news is for you.
I began reading this book uncertain as to where it would lead. after all the title does have a little word play going on. I have been around this great country and served in many states and regardless of where I have gone, complacency, tradition and legalism have stifled the ministry in far to many locations. I believe most everyone would agree that we are to be the hands and feet of the Lord and that means rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty with every lost life our path takes us to. Paul, whom you can read more about here is the founding pastor of Sanctuary Toronto, a ministry and faith community serving marginalized communities in Canada's largest city. This explains a lot for his passion for reaching out in practical hands on ways ministering by meeting needs to the souls who are less fortunate and discriminated against. I will admit his social justice view of things is nothing I agree with so this made it a difficult book to read. To express his passion for the downcast is admirable and people with a similar heart are called to that type of ministry, however i also know a group who are called to the wealthy and renowned.
In theory I am on board as he gives a multitude of examples of how and who they serve in Sanctuary and to be honest felt like I was caught in a looping commercial several times throughout the book for the church there in Toronto. There were also a couple of comments about skin color and law enforcement I felt were not justified. I have a multitude of friends who are mixed ethnicities, some that are law enforcement and some that are both. All great folks.
I will say the positives of this book were to challenge each reader to be the church and quit doing church. A message long over due. Should we practice what we preach we would realize great rewards, should the church act on its call. The scriptural references felt somewhat like a biased commentary on James at times which is a good book on our life in the church as well as personally.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get beyond the references on page 52 and following regarding what God's idea of religion is making sure we are interdependent, understanding and valuing the gifts each one brings to the community "making sure that everyone gets what they need". Then turning to a biased view on civil rights while belittling those who God has blessed in resource and material, whom he continually identifies as being one of the wealthy.
I agree if we pooled our resources there would be none lacking and yet to place the emphasis on one sect of people whom he earlier admits are the orphans and widows then once again back to skin color.
I don't believe God sees skin color, only the blood of the lamb and to that we can all be assured. As the church we shouldn't be so preoccupied by skin color, wealth, popularity, tradition, legalism, complacency or any of the garbage we see in churches and to that degree I can have an appreciation for this book. I would encourage you to pick up a copy to see where you stand, I would love to get your feedback and comments here and see what you thought.
I received my copy from the great folks at Tyndale house publishers at no cost.
You can pick up a copy at your favorite retailer as well as Amazon books
Till next time