This is a blog I had not intended to write. It was not in the list of ‘things in my head to address’ or even in my draft folder. However, I was offering comforting thoughts to a fellow blogger in the US who shared how her daughter’s missing dog had been discovered… dismembered and mutilated by a neighbour’s pit bulls, and deliberately! The rage she must surely feel towards that man now… we are to remind ourselves of the clear yet most difficult command Jesus gave us to love our enemy. Really not easy, and totally against our nature. It truly is very difficult to achieve.
One of the thoughts I offered was “We all find it hard, but he gives you the strength and the means when you lose yourself in his love.” Right away, I recognised just why I need to worship God, since that is where and when I ‘lose myself in his love’ and it takes me to a place where I feel enveloped in it, my mind is swamped by it, my thoughts given to nothing else but his love and why I want to continually praise him.
Now this is not something that all evangelicals get wrong, but it is certainly a prevalent belief within some churches that I have encountered, and it is that worship isn’t that important. It ranges from ‘we don’t need it’ to ‘we are commanded to worship him but it should be kept to a minimum and is very subordinate to the preaching of the word!’
Certainly, the gospel must be preached and the words of our Lord taught to his people! I have come across churches that sing and dance all night, and choose to continue doing so while the pastor’s bible remains unopened on the pulpit. That is wrong, and I fear that many who are against modern forms of worship view this as the outcome if they ‘allow’ such changes to take place. As long as a church has good teaching and preaching, whatever way they choose to worship is a slightly lesser issue as long as they do worship.
[I say ‘slightly’ since there is the issue of trying to make worship fit every taste that, as a band coordinator, I recognise is fraught with difficulty, but that’s another issue]
You see, I have always seen many churches in my native country as ‘Ephesian’ (we aren’t all in the ‘Laodicean age’ as dispensationalism would have you believe). The church at Ephesus was addressed by our Lord in Revelation (chapter 2) as one that was to be commended on their endurance, hard work and correct doctrine: they could rightly discern evil people and condemn heresies, but he rebuked them for one thing; they had ‘forsaken the love [they] had at first’! They were to get back to that place where they loved their Lord without reservation, or face his wrath. I think ‘removing their lampstand’ is a fairly severe punishment for a church – they would lose the light of their witness!
We must have a witness in this world, and the most important thing for a good testimony is love: it is how we are known by the world as true Jesus followers (John 13:35). I believe we can only do that once we immerse ourselves in his love and let it soak into us, as if we were a great sponge, and worship is where that takes place. It is vital for a church to function, witness, act, shine.
Worship is all about him, not us or our differences of opinion. Lose yourself in it!
Grace be with you.