Bitterness often begins as a normal—maybe even healthy—response to the losses, disappointments, failures, and unfairnesses of life. In that sense, the term “bitterness” is pretty much synonymous with mental, spiritual, emotional (and often also physical) pain.
But the Bible reveals that when indulged and nurtured, bitterness becomes an infection of the inner man that taints—and has the potential to corrupt—all our activities and relationships. I’ve written about the forms and harms of bitterness previously (see Bitterness Happens, and Six Ways Bitterness Can Poison Our Lives).
The good news is that both Scripture and experience (as application of biblical principles) point us toward some practical strategies for overcoming bitterness in our lives before, or even after, it becomes a chronic problem.
Scott Aniol’s new book, By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, argues at length against the architects of missional evangelism—not because Aniol thinks the attractional model (of Hybels, Warren, et al.) is better, but because he doesn’t see cultural forms as neutral, suitable for any message including the gospel.
Here’s what I take to be his thesis paragraph for the book:
Although the missional church seems to correctly recognize the nature of the Christendom paradigm in western civilization and in many cases rightly discerns the integral relationship between Christianity and culture during that period, it appears to view this development in the history of the church as entirely negative, with very few positive fruits. At the very least, most missional advocates see what happened as merely neutral contextualization of the church’s worship to culture, yet their very quick dismissal of worship forms coming out of that period as simply antiquated “relics” reveals what may be a simplistic understanding of the impact of the church upon culture during that period. This perspective limits their ability to recognize the strengths of the cultural forms from that period in expressing Christian values and the vast differences that exist today with regard to culture and contextualization in worship.
"1. Piano — Piano is not only a favorite; it is one of the few instruments that did not also get mentioned as a least favorite. 2. Acoustic Guitar — This instrument was a clear second preference. 3. Organ — This instrument was also the number one least favorite. There seemed to be a clear generational divide here." CPost
This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline.
Worship has been a controversial topic in recent years. In some ways, the degree of controversy is a good thing: much of it arises from people genuinely striving to do what they believe to be God’s desire—that is, to properly honor God’s name and, at the same time, properly involve and engage God’s people in that activity.
Clearly, much of the controversy has also arisen from philosophies of ministry or outreach that, among other errors, improperly relate the interests and desires of the lost or immature to the worship life of the local church.
Peter’s teaching in this portion of 1 Peter is an excellent corrective. It helps us frame the question of acceptable worship correctly, understand the bigger picture, and ask the right questions to evaluate our present-day options.