Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Way of Worship

If the ordinances are the biggest battleground in the Christian church, mode of worship seems to come second. Everything from the type of music to the nature of acceptable body movements has been contested. This is often because it is the outer trappings that people first encounter when entering a church. But these things are just the outer trappings.

Worship should not be seen as confined to a particular time and set of activities, but should involve all of life (1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 12:1,2; Micah 6:8). Further, the response of worship, praise, thanksgiving, and prayer is to be continual (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalms 34:1-4; 104:33). But that does not mean we should not meet together to worship (Hebrews 10:24,25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4:16). There are those who say they can worship God anywhere. Not only can we worship God anywhere, but we should worship God anywhere. We meet together to be encouraged and instructed in worship. Also, we build relationships so we can work together and help each in carrying out God's work (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-13). The congregational meetings are the practice sessions for the game of life. And in the worship of God there are no super-stars who can miss all the practices and expect to show up on the day of the game and be of value to the team. But we also should not confuse the practice session with the main event and feel that if we just show up on Sunday, we are following God.

Now one of the basic necessities of worship is that it is from the heart and is not just going through the motions (John 4:23,24; Malachi 1:10; Isaiah 58:3-12). Nor are we to worship to please other people rather than God (Matthew 6:1-18; Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25). The issue here is not a particular level or type of experience, though I am not against experience, but simple honesty. Do I really mean what I say? I do not think there is any particular form or approach to worship that guarantees this. Now God does call for a degree of order in worship (1 Corinthians 14:26-40; 9:19-23; 11:17-22). But the order given is very informal, and the main idea is that things should not get totally out of control. The key idea should be a meaningful and undistracted focus on God. .

The main issue is not the mode or method of worship, but what is in the heart (Romans 2:16; Hebrews 4:12,13; 1 Samuel 16:7). It is easy to get caught up in the trappings and miss the real point. Also, any trapping that serves the basic purpose is good. I suspect that most of the differences in worship styles reflects differences in personalities. And if so, we seem to be fighting over things that are more a matter of taste than substance. And we need to focus on the substance. 

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