I’ve written a couple of articles over at Desiring God recently. The most recent two originally started as one longer post, but a friend wisely encouraged me to consider splitting it in two to provide better focus. So, the first half became an article about treating corporate worship as something distinct from personal devotions, and the second post was a kind of applied theology of countenance.
Overall, I think it was the right choice to split them. But let me emphasize how connected these two ideas are. One person wrote, after the first post, “You get going and then come to an abrupt stop. Is this all you had to say?” Well, no. No it wasn’t, in fact. In my follow up post, some people responded that they now feel self-concious that people are judging their heart by what they express on their face. Let me clarify:
This wonderful gift we have in the New Covenant, called the church, is itself a reason for celebration. Consider the privilege we enjoy by having the temple of God among us daily and weekly. I do not have to fly to Jerusalem, I drive 10 minutes to Downtown Minneapolis. We taste the fruit of the Messianic hope in Chronicles. As we gather with the saints, our joy and our duty are interwoven. As I grow in my knowledge of the gift of assembling, it will progressively influence how I participate.
When I realize on Sunday morning the gift I have been given to gather with the saints, at least two things happen. First, joyful gratitude rises up. Second, I realize that I have a responsibility to my brothers and sisters. Grumpiness might actually be selfishness.
While losing the poker face, we don’t obsess over how we are being perceived. Rather, we share our genuine gladness with each other. We are glad, partly, because we are in the eschatological assembly. And we are eager to encourage each other with our mutual delight in Jesus.
So let the bad poker analogy have its full effect: The giddiness that would ruin your betting odds was not a bluff. The royal flush flushed you, not premeditated trickery. The poker face is unnecessary because for Christians, our hope is not a gamble! So when you are worried that people are misreading your face, rejoice that you are given the opportunity to be a vessel of grace. In the context of real relationships, we’ll learn how, in your own way, “your face will surely show it.”