“Wrestling With Romans”
Worship Wars (Chapter 10 Verses 1-21)
The atmosphere into which we invite people to hear the message of Christ, is vitally important (v17). There must be reverence, but what does that mean? Not a hang dog expression, or sitting terror struck in case we do something wrong? But a joyful reverence which is simply a deep respectful attitude in all that’s done, towards God. It is the simple humble attitude of a faithful believer. When we show respect for God, in other words when people see we are faithful believers they will catch on that we mean what we are saying and doing. But there must be, it is imperative surely, that there is joy, and I mean by that spiritual joy. People ought to be surprised at the joy they see in Christian worshippers. I mean they live with misery every other day of the week, they see so very little joy in the world around them. When they come into a Christian Church one of the first things that should strike them is, these people are so happy! There should be a serious sorrow for sin, reflected within the service but definitely not the overall ethos, we are forgiven after all, aren’t we? There ought to be participation by different members of the Church, we are all priests (1Peter 2.9), and therefore all able to make spiritual offerings to God. I don’t mean by that that every Tom, Dick and Harry is on the platform. I mean we are not there to be entertained, to be spectators, but spiritually engaged in every part of the worship. Is the Minister praying, so should you be. Is the Minister reading Scripture, so should you be. You go to Church to do something, to offer praise to God, you must participate to do this. All is to be done of course in a context of decency and order in keeping with the New Testament teaching (1Corinthians 14; Romans 12.5-8). There should be, I believe, opportunity given for expression of worship by the congregation, led and controlled, but by no means a free-for-all (1Corinthians 12-14).
We spend that much time criticising and complaining about other people, about what’s right, and what’s wrong. The arguments and the books, pamphlets, blogs and sermons issued concerning worship is endless. It is a certainty I’m not going to bring it to a conclusion with this note. I have in my pilgrimage experienced many different ethos’ of worship, from the very strict to the very free. In my earlier experience I’ve struggled with the issues myself. But one thing I am sure about is, that there is in the modern church way too much flippancy, far too light on sin, that really does need to be addressed. I believe that there is nowhere near enough Scripture, even reverence for Scripture in the church today. Not enough Bible reading, Bible praying and Bible preaching, and please note I said preaching, not teaching and definitely not lecturing. We very seriously need to be doing what we should be doing, getting the gospel into people. We want growing Churches, we want healthy Churches, we want gospel preaching Churches, yes, that are relevant to the twenty first century, but before all that, faithfulness to God, to his word and God-glorifying. I think maybe much of the arguing on this subject would go away if more of us remembered just who exactly it is that we are there for and to please. And it sure ain’t ourselves.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)