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 …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matt. 9:17
“Worship style” definitely gets the prize for being the most troublesome issue dividing churches today. I believe it is troublesome because it hits many of us at a pretty deep level. We each have our preferred “language” for worship, and these worship wars have a way of calling into question the legitimacy of my “language”. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts here and here and here, but our questioning each other’s worship style is a little reminiscent of the money-changers questioning the legitimacy of each person’s sacrifice.
In Jesus’ much-studied conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John chapter 4), he is asked a pointed question about the appropriate time and place to worship God. For those of us who are struggling even now with “worship style” issues, this woman’s question is a prime example of a “worship style” question. Jesus’ response, that “a time is coming” when God’s restrictions on time, place and form would no longer be central to worship, seems to me to be a clear signal that an important change was about to happen. Jesus’ remarks in Matthew chapter 9 about “new wine” and “new wineskins” seem to signal the same thing: a profoundly new way of relating to God.
Isn’t that what Pentecost (Acts 2) represented? Wasn’t it the ushering in of an entirely new way of relating to God? Surely, Jesus’ teaching to the woman at the well that God is seeking …
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 …