Do you remember how much effort you put into planning your wedding? For some, the plan was simple. You went down to the courthouse, filled out your application, affirmed all the justice of the peace’s questions, and walked out husband and wife. For others, the plan was more elaborate. You decided on a church wedding, spent hours at the bridal shoppe choosing a dress, and gave your father a coronary when he learned how much a cake (made of just flour, milk and eggs mind you) would cost.
In both cases, you had a purpose in mind. In the former case, you wanted something simple and easy. In the latter, you wanted all the atmosphere of elegance. The point is you took time to think it through.
I’ve asked about your wedding plans because I want to ask if you’ve put the same amount of thought into your worship plans. Have you? Before all our effort was poured into defending orthodox Christianity against the onslaught of the sexual revolution, we debated worship. We waxed eloquent about worship “style” and engaged in the “worship wars.” Some churches, unwisely in my opinion, instituted “traditional” and “contemporary” worship services so they could cater to the tastes of their congregants. My point is, like planning a wedding, we were giving thought to proper worship.
As I observe the practices of the church, I’m concerned that churches have stopped thinking about worship. It really does seem as though we’ve entered an era in which “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). That seems to be the premise of offering different worship styles, doesn’t it? Isn’t it to offer the people what they want? During the time of the judges in Israel, one particular condition is pointed out again and again: “there was no king” (Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25).
Is there a king in the Western church today? Yes, there is. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only king and head of the church (Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 15:25). Scripture also describes him as the church’s husband (Ephesians 5:22-33). The purpose of both metaphors, king and husband, is to describe our relationship to Christ. He gives the orders and makes the laws. We obey them.
Is the Western church doing that? If you glance at the worship practices, I think we can the answer, in general, is no. We’ve departed from the Scriptures and begun to do whatever we please, whether there is any assurance our practices please Christ.
I point out the problem so we can begin to prescribe a solution. God created you and me for worship. Gathering to God through Christ to praise him in the power of the Spirit is the sum and substance of our existence. Over the next few weeks of articles, I will lay out for you a case for biblical worship. We’ll consider topics like who may lead in worship, what practices are appropriate for worship, and how can we know if our worship is acceptable to God. Let’s remember, “the Father is seeking” true worshipers “to worship him” (John 4:23). Pray he will make us such worshipers.