Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:4-6
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
You and I can take solace in the fact that we would never do what “some of those present” did to poor Mary of Bethany in Mark 14. You and I are way, way too spiritual to ever do such a thing! Truly, all Mary was doing was loving Jesus with extravagance…pouring her very heart out with every ounce of perfume which left that container. She was oblivious to the awkwardness or to the social or political “incorrectness” of her actions…her heart was 100% for Jesus in that moment. That, my friends, was the very picture of “true worship”.
So, to scoff or to rebuke her for it…well, wow, that is just embarrassing. I’m just glad you and I would never do that.
There are actually a few other places I can think of in the Bible where people scoffed at or made fun of someone’s worship of God. None of those stories ended well for those scoffers. It seems that God really does frown on such scoffers. Worship, after all, is not for their benefit at all; rather, it is aimed only at God. What business is it of others …
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
If the goal of worship is to connect with God, then there are only two “grades” you can give a gathered worship experience: “A” or “F”. It is pretty much a pass/fail thing. That is because there is no such thing as connecting with God and it being anything other than amazing and wonderful…and if you are in a worship experience and you are NOT connecting with God, then, well…fail. I had to get all that said before I take up today’s topic, just so you know that I know…because today I am giving our culture’s gathered worship experiences a grade somewhere between pass and fail.
Last year, I attended a corporate worship experience at a church in the town where my daughter goes to school. It was well produced, but lacking in one way. Other than my family, I did not know a single person around me. Sadly, that was still true even as we were leaving. That just seems wrong to me.
The truth is, it was an amazing worship atmosphere. Very contemporary in style (I am blessed to be comfortable worshiping in almost any “style”), with a casual feel and lots of technology to help the worshiper stay focused on the message and on the theme for the day…great, introspective music, wonderful sermon, innovative communion. To their credit, I thought the worship leaders did a fairly good job of keeping the focus OFF of them on ON the Lord. That’s not easy to do in this consumer-oriented culture. But there was one element missing for me…and frankly, it is missing in the vast majority of corporate worship experiences I’ve ever seen or heard about. …