Solitary Man

Solitary Man

For Judy Arko, 43, the logic behind Christian yoga is simple. “It gives me time alone with God,” she says. “As a mom of two small kids, I don’t get that–even in church“ (Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus”, Time, September 5, 2005).

This is the last sentence in the article I mentioned yesterday. Like I said yesterday, Christian yoga is the symptom of a greater problem in the church – agnosticism of Christianity. People are unable to have convictions about that which they do not understand. They do not know that light and darkness mix about as good as blood and water.

You can see a clearer picture of the problem from Judy Arko’s quote above. I understand to some degree what she is talking about, but I’m afraid she has drawn the wrong conclusion. She practices yoga because she wants time alone. The last clause caught my eye “even in church”. I am afraid she does not understand the purpose behind public worship.

It is evidenced in some churches today that have people go to a corner to draw, or to meditate, or to do a number of other things. They do this so people can “worship God in their own way”. By doing this they are failing to speak into other people’s lives so that they will be spurred on to love and good works. Public worship is just that – with the public. What we need is not time alone with God as much as we need the Body of Christ to bear our burdens and carry us through the chaos of raising two children or losing a job or making a hard decision.

Yes, we do need to meditate and pray in closets and a number of other disciplines on our own. But we desperately need community to help us press on toward the goal. Christianity is not a solitary religion…no one can practice the Ten Commandments without people in their lives. Go through the list…you will find that without community you cannot worship God as you ought. We are a motley people who need others to expunge the deceitful sin in our lives. We need them to pull us out of bed and push us on our knees. Otherwise…

The highest virtue in the Christian life is not being alone with God. Jesus went in solitude to pray in order to be wizened to choose his disciples, to be strengthened to go to the Cross…both public acts of worship and devotion. Countless studies have been shown that solitude will destroy a person – why is solitary confinement the worst kind of torture?

Yes, we do need time one-on-one to read God’s Word and to pray away from the crowds. However, we put our lives as living sacrifices on the altar, on display before the world. Let us not pursue solitude as an end in itself…but as a means to more complete worship.

  • van.diesel
    Posted at 16:13h, 05 October Reply

    Another excellent post. As a suggestion for a future topic, I’d love to hear more about what you think about this topic. What are the purposes of congregational worship? Why do we hold worship services at all? What do they hold for the believer and for the non-believer?

  • Matthew Wireman
    Posted at 20:49h, 07 October Reply

    Good questions. I’m planning on posting more on this topic as I think there is a lack of clarity and purpose in corporate worship. Stay tuned…What do you think of my thoughts on parenting? Ironic, huh? I have been thinking a lot about how to do it well and with purpose.

  • van.diesel
    Posted at 00:31h, 18 October Reply

    Is this a hint of things to come? (translation: do you have … ahem… “news”?)

  • Casey
    Posted at 06:51h, 21 July Reply

    ‘why is solitary confinement the worst kind of torture?’
    I never thought of it like that. How true. Thanks Matthew, this demands contemplation.

    • Matthew Wireman
      Posted at 14:57h, 21 July Reply

      Thanks for the thought, Casey. I find that the “me and Jesus” religion much of evangelicalism has opted for misses the boat on all that God has for us. May God have mercy on us as we die to self and lift others up as more important than ourselves.

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