Monday, April 11, 2011

When praise isn't enough

Since this coming Sunday will be Palm Sunday, that's what we're writing about this week at Kingdom Bloggers.

I've got to tell you, I've never had a deep and meaningful Palm Sunday experience. Although I've repeatedly read and heard about how "all four gospels come to a crescendo with this event" of Palm Sunday, and how Palm Sunday was "the ultimate act of worship in all of history", whenever I think about Palm Sunday I'm left with questions.

Questions like, How could people be so outwardly recognizing Jesus' rightful glory, honor, and worthiness and proclaiming Him as Lord one day, and then be crying out for his crucifixion less than a week later? Maybe it wasn't all the exact same people, but there had to be some of the same people in both groups. Even if the same people who'd been praising Him during His triumphant entry into Jerusalem were not crying out for His crucifixion, they certainly weren't defending Him. The event of Palm Sunday brings me to the question of if praising God is enough. It causes me to wonder if following after emotion can be a dangerous path.

Don't get me wrong, I love to worship God. Someone only needs to begin to read God's names, or recount His blessings, and the Holy Spirit rises up within me and I want to start praising God. My husband can attest to the fact that many are the mornings when I'm singing praises to God. Our God truly and certainly is worthy of all our praises and more.

I also think passion and emotion and enthusiasm are wonderful things. Passion, emotion, and enthusiasm bring the zest to life. But those three, minus knowledge and truth, are dangerous. A perfect is example is couples in love. I can't tell you how many couples I've known that are sexually active, sometimes even living together outside of marriage, who tell me how God has blessed them with this love. Yet if they had enthusiasm and knowledge they would let the sex wait until after marriage so that they could fully experience God's blessings.

But aren't you grateful for God's forgiveness? I know that I sure am! I'm reminded of what Jeremiah proclaimed in Lamentations 3:22-23:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

ALL of us need God's forgiveness. ALL of us fall short often. It's ONLY through the shed blood of Jesus that any of us can come into the presence of God.

I'm a grateful recipient of God's forgiveness every single day. I mess up frequently. But I don't want to stay the same, I want to grow in God. I want to learn more, experience more, yield more, be used more, with every passing day.

I think that one piece to how I do that is to grow in knowledge, to base my passion and emotion and even my praise, on the knowledge that God grows in me. To be in the Word, and open to the Holy Spirit's teaching me through His opening up God's word to my heart, through His own sweet presence, through brothers and sisters in the faith, and through life experiences. To stop insisting on my way (Seems like that's what the Israelites did with Jesus; they insisted that He be an earthly kind of king and bring them political freedom. They were praising Him greatly when that's who they thought He was, but they turned away when they realized that it wasn't.) and look for what He's doing, what He wants, for His agenda.

When I was thinking about all of this, I talked with my husband John. When he read the quote from Lamentations, he reminded me that many of those very same people who'd called for Jesus' crucifixion, may have been present at Pentecost. That one of the reasons God IS WORTHY of our praise, is because of His great mercy and compassion.

So these are the thoughts I'm pondering as we're approaching the celebration of Palm Sunday in the Western church. What about you, what kinds of things come to your mind as you're thinking about Palm Sunday?


David said...

Great post, Tracy.

I think that it is interesting that very few were there at the crucifixion when there had been so many there during the triumphant entry. And then, afterwards, (probably because the rocks were split and many who were dead came out to walk about the city) they sat in pray in the upper room.

Passion must be in the context of relationship. What churches spend a lot of time doing is appealing to passion in the context of a service - it's shallow.

Passion or soulishness gets in the way of the spirit man. Being led by the spirit is a not easy, and probably impossible with passion alone.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Tony C said...

Beautifully composed and stated Tracy.

I started thinking about John's point then David's comment, and I felt sad at how quickly some of the people gave up on Jesus.

Unfortunately, that hasn't changed today.