I received a link to an interesting article entitled “If Muslim’s asked Europe for ’empty’ churches” (you can find it here) and it’s an interesting development happening in Europe. Europe’s history is with Christianity but the indigenous population has in majority left their faith however major immigration from North Africa and the Middle East has brought Islam to their foot steps. So much so that on Fridays, the traditional day of worship for Muslims, mosques don’t have enough space to contain everyone and their worshippers are overflowing out into the streets causing traffic to be backed up or rerouted. This is normal practice for where they come from but to many Europeans, its disruptive and illegal. So the solution that’s being raised – let the muslims use the ’empty’ churches to get them out of the streets.
Now I know there are many churches in North America and especially in South America, Africa and parts of Asia that do have these problems of running out of capacity but there’s very few in Europe. While many towns have a church, not a whole lot goes on there and no where near where it will fill up except for the occasional musical performance (because of the acoustics) or wedding or funeral. So what does it take for people to want to worship God so much that they’ll pour into the streets to do it? My thinking on Islam is that for most muslims, its just engrained into their culture, community identity, and social structure that they are compelled to participate in worship & prayer but in a way, do so under duress. Christianity has been like that too (and in many ways, still is) as we have seen in the last 2000 years and for Europe we see its remnants in the empty churches scattered throughout the land now being converted into museums, concert halls, dance clubs and now possibly mosques. But is worship & prayer to God to be a cultural thing? Are we to go through the week marking off our to-do list : grocery shopping – check, picked up Tommy from football – check, went to the worship center & did something required – check, ….?
In my wrestling with this (and I’m in no way an authority here), I have to think that to really worship God (creator of the universe and all) it has to be something more from the inside (that He put there; created there) that erupts out in an outward expression. It can’t be something that comes from the outside (i.e. culture, expectations, etc) that moves us but a deep down movement within us that explodes out in the form of worship and prayer. Otherwise it’s just an act and doesn’t reflect our true core being.
What’s your thought of worship?