Thursday, November 21, 2013

We're Curved In On Ourselves

Ever found your "worship" experience to be really more about you and your feelings about God than about God Himself? I know I have- It's a frequent and common issue.  Learning a little Latin phrase (Incurvatus in se) has helped me to understand the problem better, and reminds me to turn my heart upward and outward in worship away from my own feelings and problems.

Good piece here from Zac Hicks (Worship Pastor at Coral Rdige Presbyterian Church):
A Latin Phrase Worth Knowing
I’m a sucker for cool Latin phrases. Incurvatus in se, or “curved in on itself,” is one such phrase, possibly coined by Augustine and definitely expounded upon by Martin Luther.  The Reformer wrote:
"Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them (as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites), or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake."
Me, Me, Me
It’s such a vivid picture. Incurvatus in se is that self-obsessed tendency in all of us to naval gaze.  Every human being is bent inward, even taking the good things of God and making them “all about me.” For Christians, incurvatus in semanifests itself in unhealthy levels of attention on our own Christian growth and spiritual formation. (Yes, this really is possible, and it may very well be at fever pitch in American evangelicalism.) We become expert self-analysts, tracking every notch of progress and regress, victory and loss, growth and atrophy. We engage in formal and informal scorekeeping of the hopefully upward mobility of our spiritual maturity. Did I spend time in the Word today? How many lustful thoughts did I have? Was my tongue controlled? Was my temper checked? Did I practice the presence of God? Did I exhibit the fruit of the Spirit? Was my prayer intentional and purposeful? Diagnostic questions like these aren’t bad in and of themselves, but they become destructive and antithetical to the Gospel when they are our dominant pattern. If “Christian living,” for you, is defined by your constant asking and answering of such questions, you are probably suffering from a severe case of incurvatus in se, because Christian living at its core has nothing to do with these things.
I-Can-Do-It Worship
Unfortunately, because this incurvature is such a fundamental reality for all of us, it has crept into our worship, preeminently in the songs that we sing and in the way that we sing them. Elsewhere, I and others have called such songs, phrases, and lyrics elements of “triumphalism”—that obsession with how we’re living for God, loving God, giving it all for God, etc. It’s in the “surrender” language we often employ, and it’s in the “I’m doing it all for you” and “I’m giving it all away” lines that we gush. It’s painfully ironic that as we sing such lines, though we’re singing to God, we may be actually reveling in ourselves.... 
Much more at the link.