I have a good friend whose wife is currently in treatment for breast cancer. She goes in for chemotherapy treatments every 3 weeks. As you have probably heard before from other cancer survivors, chemotherapy is a process that involves weeks when you feel good and weeks when you feel awful. It changes your physical appearance. It’s a kind of poison that you take in order to kill this part of your body that is trying to kill you. Chemo is only part of the treatment which includes a cocktail of drugs as well as surgeries that can sometimes leave you deeply scarred. Healing isn’t always pretty, but it’s the only way to bring new life and restoration into your body.
The church has been redeemed by the Lamb and lives a resurrected life. Yet, we still have the curse of sin living in us like a tumor. It doesn’t belong there and if we leave sin alone it will ultimately destroy our communities. In worship, we enter into a form of chemotherapy for the soul. Often, we feel fine when we walk away from grace and the law of righteousness. Sometimes, it feels so good and right that we believe that the sin-tumor is not there or is something healthy for us. Worship reorders our perspective and exposes the lie of sin. In the light of God’s holiness, we experience the death of the “old nature” or the “flesh”. By singing together, by hearing the law, by remembering the gospel, and by confessing the truth, we do what Paul encourages in Ephesians 4:22-24
“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and … be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and … put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Like Chemotherapy, worship kills the old self and brings new life into us. As a result, worship should be painful at times. It should make us feel a kind of sickness that leaves us changed and even feeling weak or broken.
What needs to die in our hearts when we come to worship?
- Idolatry to self-fulfillment, power, or cultural heritage.
- The comfortable predictability of fear and anxiety or cynicism and apathy.
- The love of money and security (Don’t miss the meaning of taking up the offering!)
- The narcotic appeal of being popular.
What other “sin-tumors” come to mind for you?
Are there any of you who have gone to war with cancer who can elaborate on how worship looks like chemo?