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.
2 thoughts on “Things we evangelicals have got wrong, in brief #2 (worship isn’t important)”
Amen to that!
A little personal testimony to confirm your post.
I recently came out of a church where they preached a lot about the ephesian church. And where they identified themselves to that church. And about peace an joy and talents and music and about healty marriages. Not ever letting the poor people open the book of revelations. I wondered about the churchleaser’s motives. I twice talked about that with the churchleader and he told me that these people were to old for understanding the symbols and was afraid that the older people would leave or get bored. Where’s the love in that? Spiritual poor people in need and you’re making up an excuse..? Anyone with a talent for music was invited to worship in front of the poor people. That looked more like a concert. It looked like..look at how God uses us. What a blessing, that you poor people can be a wittness of that. Me and my husband we’ve had problems in our marriage for over years big time.. and I knew that if he would become a believer, things would get better. We we’re unequaly yoked and for sure that is our problem and I have myself to blame for all the problems for the bible warns us about that. So I repented for having been disobedient to his word and had faith for I saw that my husband was opening up to God. I felt like my husband was on the verge of conversion. But…
My husband was invited to join them in their worhip band. And I told the churchleader, that I didn’t think that that was a good idea for there is not a true conversion and repentance of sin yet. The churchleader said it’s okay to do so. I take full responsibility for it and I will make sure that he’ll keep working on his marriage. And there the division was created. I stayed around for some time, with no progress on the marriage issue. So one day I asked my husband, do you believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that we can only come to the father through him? My husband said, sure I do’. Then I asked, do you really need to be up there playing and singin’ to come to know God? He said, I need it, I feel like I get closer to God being up there and I’m afraid that when I don’t do so, I won’t be praying and reading my bible like I do now’. So I said, you admit that accepting Jesus as the only way, but on the other hand you say you need your playing the guitar to get close to God?’ Guess what..,he got up, got real mad and said that I was a fake christian and that I didn’t support him in anything and I was keeping him from getting to know God (I understand that he feels that way) but I cannot validate lies. So I had to bring it up. I love my husband very much but I cannot let Gods word be twisted by any means. Our problems increased rapidly after that and I decided not to attend that church anymore. He still is and guess what..,He’s now filing for divorce and guess again..! No churchleader in sight…
Where’s the love in that???
Certainly sounds like a confusing church! They identify with the Ephesian church, yet seem to not grasp the very problem the Ephesians had? They sound to me like they have a worship band but no worship from the congregation? When I play in our worship band, I see many people who never join in, but just stand staring at us (or the wall, can’t be sure!). I don’t understand them, and I have to try really hard to not judge them. If everyone stopped singing though, I’d pack my bass away and go home, for that’s our sole purpose there – to LEAD the people in worship!
I’d honestly not bother about trying to understand Revelations – it’s even a confusing book for theologians, with many, many different interpretations. On that I’d probably agree with the (former?) church leader. Best to read the gospels, then the epistles of the New Testament; lessons for life and straightforward (mostly!).
I’ll say a prayer for your marriage, and hope it can be saved. Divorce has become too commonplace for Christians recently. In the 80s and early 90s, I knew very few divorced believers. That changed too rapidly in my opinion.
Thanks for your comment. Grace be with you.