Our Worship vs. God’s Worship – Addendum

Posted on February 13, 2011 by

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As some of you may know, we’ve been working our way through a study of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah in the mornings over at FBLC. As of tomorrow we’ll be 5 weeks into the study, and so far it’s been a real blast to study for and teach. It’s our policy at FBLC to favor expository teaching and preaching – that is, we start at one place in the Bible and work through it, talking about anything and everything that the text touches upon as we go. This is helpful for (at least) four reasons:

  • 1) It gives everyone who participates a greater sense of context and ultimately a bigger picture of God’s plan of redemption as it is laid out in Scripture. Most of the error that has seeped into the church over the last 2000 or so years has come from men who took one particular truth out of context and did not balance it with the whole testimony of God’s Word.
  • 2) It prevents us, as teachers and preachers, from going off on a pet theory or belief that, true or not, keeps us from being focused on Jesus Christ as our first priority (see #1). The entire Bible is Christ-centric. Our personal pet peeves and soap boxes are not.
  • 3) It forces us, all of us, to teach and talk about difficult or controversial things when they are encountered in the text. Sometimes they will be things that we simply can’t agree on, and sometimes they will be things that everybody would simply rather avoid.
  • 4) It forces us, all of us, to teach and talk about things that we don’t really think are that important. Because your and my priorities about what we think the hot issues are are probably not the same as Christ’s.

There’s also an additional element: When we are teaching through a text and the text has to do with an issue or a topic that has come up in the Church recently as a question or subject of confusion or interest, we stop and talk about what the Bible (and specifically the passage we are studying) has to say about that subject.

Most of last week’s lesson (on Jeroboam’s establishment of a new way to worship Jehovah) was about worship. And that’s because that’s what the text and the spirit demanded we teach and discuss. We broke down Jeroboam’s motivations and actions in the establishment of centers of false calf worship at Dan and Bethel, and used that as a model of what worship should NOT be like – essentially worshipping the way we want to worship vs. worshipping the way God desires to be worshipped.

We saw that man’s worship:

  • 1) Is motivated by fear of man instead of fear of God
  • 2) Seeks conformity over relevance
  • 3) Exalts our ideas over God’s wisdom
  • 4) Puts convenience before devotion
  • 5) Substitutes lowered standards for God’s grace

The point that raised some eyebrows and tilted some heads was #2 – conformity vs. relevance. And that’s why I’m writing this blog post. Some of the listening audience took some of the things that were taught as being off-topic and not really having to do with the text. That’s probably my fault, and I want to take this opportunity to both lay out my thoughts a little more clearly, and to make sure it’s clear why this subject tied in with the text.

The confusion was in regards to a reference I made in passing to music (isn’t it always music) in the church and specifically in regards to the reasoning behind the kind of music our church uses – and more importantly, doesn’t use – in worship.

We showed from Scripture and from archeology that the false religion that Jeroboam establishes in 1 Kings 12 is actually a false alternative to the God-sanctioned Jehovah worship that went on in the Temple at Jerusalem. It used themes and methods imported from the pagan Egyptian, Phoenician, and Canaanite religions of the surrounding nations, but it still paid supposed lip service to Jehovah.

This represents a particularly destructive pattern: Borrowing our methods of worship from the lost around us instead of worshipping Jesus in Spirit and in Truth.

The world today has its gods too – Sex, Materialism, and Rage form the unholy trinity which the culture around us worships. And our culture expresses that worship in a number of different ways. One of the main ways that we, as human beings (regardless of our religious beliefs or affiliation) express feelings of worship is through the medium of music.

Music was created by God, and God Himself enjoys singing:

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
(Zep 3:16-17)

God created music, just like everything else, with the ultimate goal of pleasing Himself and glorifying Himself. Believe it or not, that was also the original purpose of language, sex, and the family. And just like those three things, the Devil and the world have their own perverted derivation. At its best, and at its worst, music exists to worship or glorify something.

It’s not my goal here to tell you which is the good music and which is the bad – that’s a different discussion for a different time. The point that was made Sunday – and the point I am trying to make again here – was this:

God demonstrates throughout His Word that he does not desire to be worshipped in the same way that the false gods of the heathen are worshipped. Music is an important part of worship. Because of that principle, it has been our decision as a church to avoid those forms of Christian music that represent a compromise, stylistically or theologically, with the way the world around us worships their gods. We believe that this stance is Scriptural and is pleasing to the Lord.

With that said, three things need to be understood:

  • 1) It’s not a music issue. It’s a worship issue. We apply this same principle to a wide variety of areas other than music – it’s just that, as the Music Minister at FBLC, I get asked about this particular subject a lot. Which is why I address it when worship comes up in the text from which we are teaching.
  • 2) We don’t get (or think we are getting) any kind of special favor or brownie points with God for any of this. It is simply done out of a desire to adhere to the principles of His Word.
  • 3) God blesses, prospers, and works through thousands of other churches and believers who have taken different stances in regards to how they worship. We praise God for them. And we reject the divisiveness of those (regardless of their stance) who try to make this an article of faith.

So I hope that clarifies a little bit what was taught last week. Let me sum it up for you: The lesson was on worship – specifically our worship vs. God’s worship. Music is a part of worship, and a lot of people ask questions about why we worship the way we do. So when the Bible talks about worship, we talk about music (along with a lot of other things).

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Posted in: food for thought