Spiritual Feast

All the fullness without the itis

The Old Song and Dance

We have visited a lot of churches and I must admit that we can not find “The One”.  Rather than be occupied by our church homelessness, I have been contemplation on something I have witnessed at every church we have tried. We arrive, are greeted(or not, in some), and are given a program. (segue: along with a tithe envelope-I am not against these but the ones with all kind of inappropriate information like asking me about my paycheck does bother me…save that for another blog another day)  Most of the time at the top of the program is a segment called “Worship”. In each service, most churches specify a time in the service dedicated solely to the worship of God. During this designated time of ” Worship”(sometimes Praise and Worship) I have seen numerous things such as choirs, standing, singing, dancing, skits, arm waving, passing out, talking in tongues and so forth. In some churches, the congregation has even been led to believing that if you are not doing what the others are doing, i.e. waving hands, then you are NOT worshiping God.
Again, this is where I find fault in our man-made contemporary (and sometimes traditional) church practices. What does this 10 minutes of worship (adjust to 30+ in Southern Churches esp Gospel Churches-the choir will sing the same verse over and over until the tune is stuck in your head for the day) matter when the remaining 6 days 23 hours and 50 mins are spent ignoring God and His word?  As if participation during this “worship” time cleanses the guilt of 1)lack of praise outside of “worship” time 2)lack of obedience during the week 3) meets our obligation as people of God. With some I have found, working them self into a state of joy in feeling as if they are really achieving worship by letting them self get carried away in the music and song during worship time, the more they feel  justified/forgiven for their actions for the rest of the week when it is not “worship time”.  Not to say that many people don’t achieve true worship, or that people I have seen are big fat fakers. My point is that many people get stuck in the process(—1)they participate in praise and worship 2)they listen to the message 3) they participate in prayer and fellowship 4) they carry this message and try and apply it in life— )where they leave church feeling as if this hour (or three in Southern Churches) will sustain their relationship with God for the week(month, season, year for some).Its not my style to dwell on what is being done and how I view it as wrong or inaccurate. I rather spend time researching what worship is and how we can adjust from this liberal adaptation we call “worship”. So, without further a due… Worship is an english word added to the Bible during the 14th century when translating the Greek word latreuô and latreia- to serve or service and sometimes the Hebrew word hachah -bowing down. What? We have been told all this time that we should worship- tying our definition of worship to what I would, now knowing, would call praise but really the bible is asking us to serve or bow down to God when it says to worship?

Romans 12: 1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

True worship is not limited to just lifting hands, and singing beautiful songs of worship–that’s praise! Worship or service should be an outflow of living a surrendered obedient life. Total commitment to the Lord is not a pre-requisite but a standard to true worship. In Romans 12:1-2 ,  Paul urges the believers to a complete surrender. Looking carefully into these verses, we see that Paul is urging them to surrender all dimensions of life – Physical, Spiritual, Social and Mental to God. Worshiping the Lord is a journey of complete surrender, obedience and commitment. In fact the very first time the word worship is mentioned in the Bible it is in the context of Abraham worshiping (or serving) the Lord with his only son Isaac….a demonstration of surrender, commitment and obedience. God honors that kind of worship.

People will really hate me for this but worship does not mean going to church and going to church is not worship. True, going to church could be considered gathering in the name of God but that isn’t service. Feeding the homeless at church would be worship. Taking from above-offering your body as a living sacrifice means one must live in a way that it pleasing to God. One “serves” God, by the way one lives. Part of that is connected to how you treat  your fellow humans beings. Another part is how you treat your own body i.e nutrition, exercise, smoking. (check out the new part of the blog)

Maybe service has been changed into praise because under the Old Covenant, “serving God” was bound to one single place. From the days of king David to New Testament times, that place was Jerusalem and the sanctuary there. But, the New Covenant has no such earthly “place” at all. The saints had received the Holy Spirit and had direct access to Jesus and the Father and could “serve” them, wherever they happened to be. What was needed was not a place or a “church” or a “temple”; what was needed was the Holy Spirit.

The saints had the Holy Spirit. Through that, they all together formed God’s spiritual, new-covenantal “temple” (house, dwelling). God dwelled in those saints, through his Spirit. In short: The New Covenant has no earthly “temple of God”. Many churches and preachers have claimed that their buildings are “temples of God” or “houses of God”, or that their church as an organization is that. But, they are not. Or, at least they are not temples of the true God who is in Heaven. Thus, the concept of “going to a temple of God to worship”, is erroneous, in more than one way.

Again, the New Covenant’s “temple of God” (or “House of God” or “Dwelling of God”) is not a place or a building. The saints (those who have the Holy Spirit) are the New Covenant’s House of God (Dwelling of God). Again, God had placed his Holy Spirit in the saints and was thus dwelling in them.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Surely walking into modern churches would be like walking on Mars for the saints of yesterday. I would even wager that if Paul were to visit a church anywhere in the world today, this speech would still stand true.

Acts 17:22-25

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

Paul pointed out a few things. 1) Seek knowledge about what, how and why you are serving/worshipping/insert synonym here God(you may be doing something because you think its what God wants when really someone made it up) 2) God doesn’t need or want our candles/flowers/gold. (He wants our praise, love and obedience- our service) 3) God dwells in US not in a building with an alter and stadium seating(although maybe a nice meeting place).

Am I saying stop going to church, stop praising God during “worship” time? No. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that by participating in these things that you have fulfilled any thing that God has asked of you beyond praise. Know that by swaying to the music and running up and down the isles, you have not “done your part” in getting closer to God. Or that by going to church and participating in the service, you are automatically cleansed/forgiven/redeemed.  Church is a great place to find knowledge, fellowship and a community of like minded individuals to help you on the path of spiritual growth but it not the only place to service(worship) God and it is not the house of God, you are.


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This entry was posted on September 7, 2011 by in God.

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