Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and submitted for your consideration and comments.
I miss having children’s art on my refrigerator. I’m between seasons for that (kids are too old but no grandchildren yet). I always loved getting the artwork from them after they had spent hours creating them. I had a lot of responses when I got them, but here are some things I NEVER said: What, are you kidding? You call that a portrait? Can’t you even draw a face right? This doesn’t even remotely resemble our house. This is not a good tree at all. This is not good enough. I don’t want this. Can you even imagine a parent responding that way?
I can’t either. Nor can I even imagine God looking down at the heart of one of his children and saying these same kinds of things about their worship efforts…not any longer, not under the new covenant where “true worshipers” worship “…in Spirit and in truth” as opposed to form and place. I just don’t think God gets nearly as stressed about worship styles as we do.
As a church mediator, I have to tell you, I’ve just about had my fill of the fighting over worship styles. Contemporary versus traditional: which one is better? I think I have memorized every verse of each side’s battle hymn (or chorus). They’re too shallow. They aren’t genuine. They sing the same words over and over again. They’re too stale. They aren’t user-friendly. Their hands are in the air. Their hands are in their pockets. They have frowns on their faces when they worship. They preach too long. They preach too short. They don’t do an altar call. They don’t take an offering. They take too many offerings. They stand too much. They sit too much. Yada, yada, yada. Seriously, the lawyer in me can make either side’s arguments pretty well (for the right price…sorry, had to complete the lawyer joke).
Here is the all-too-predictable volley of attacks: one side, feeling a need to point out the deficiencies of the other side, picks a picture of one of the most extreme abuses they can find and holds it up as the poster child for all that is wrong with the other side. The other side, hurt by the trashing and thrashing, finds their own picture of the worst possible example of the first side’s worship and holds it up as their evidence. And through this process, there is enough negative energy created to put a large black eye on the entire Christian community. It is shameful.
What it reminds me of is the money-changers in the temple. I bring my much cared-for lamb to offer as my very best sacrifice, and the money-changers look it over and tell me it’s not good enough. But, of course, they would be willing to exchange it for one of theirs (which is good enough) for a price. No wonder Jesus lost it with these guys. Who do they (we) think they (we) are, purporting to judge whether one another’s worship is good enough for God? It just makes you want to go around turning over a few tables (or pulpits or amplifiers).
So here is the deal. People who take the time and energy to tear down someone else’s style of worship need to figure out what it is about themselves that makes them need to do that. Why do you feel so threatened? What are you really afraid of? And more importantly, do you think God gave you that spirit of fear? If you feel a need to talk negatively about someone else’s worship or some other church’s worship style, it seems to me you have some personal spiritual issues you need to deal with. Seriously.
© Blake Coffee
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