Last Sunday this was part of my text: â€œIn the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me, â€˜Flee like a bird to the mountainsâ€¦ If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?â€ (Psalm 11). I tried to explain that, when things really go wrong (â€œthe foundations are destroyedâ€), sometimes we are tempted to flee, to employ different forms of denial and escape. I said that the mountains we sometimes escape to are not always conventionalâ€¦ alcohol, drugs, psychosis, shopping, etc. I suggested that the mountains could also represent escaping into a book of lofty ideas, or a movie of high-paced action, or sometimes even hyper-religiosity and an other-worldly spirituality. I said that even using worship music can sometimes be used to escape the harsh realities of life.
That created a reactionâ€¦ what I said about worship being used as an escape or a form of denial. I know thatâ€™s been true for me. I know thatâ€™s been true for others. But to say it so bluntly aroused a response I didnâ€™t expect. I emphasized, I thought, that worship in itself isnâ€™t wrong. But sometimes we use it wrongly. This is true for anything. Anything at all! But to use â€œworshipâ€ as an example confused some people. I know some of the problem is that Iâ€™m often not very clear. But I also think that sometimes we react to harsh truths. It offends our religious sensitivities to suggest that sometimes our worship may be a form of denial.
Hereâ€™s a graphic example: I know a person who visited a very poor church. The congregation was made up of people all living in poverty. The pastor embraced a â€œhealth/ wealthâ€ theology, i.e. that God wants you to be financially rich. He lead the beleaguered congregation in a song that is normally worded, â€œMercy is falling, is falling, is falling, mercy is falling all over meâ€; but the words were changed to say, â€œMoney is falling, is falling, is falling, money is falling all over me!â€ This really happened. This really happens. I think this is a blatant form of denial, an escape from the harsh realities of their situation.