“You are observing special days and months and seasons
and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have
wasted my efforts on you.”
Thoughts…. Every so often a well-intentioned Christian will strongly suggest to me that the church ought to incorporate a certain practice within our worship. These people are usually passionate about Jesus and are committed to personal discipleship, but they are convinced that if we don’t observe this particular worship expression—usually rooted in some obscure Old Testament passage—then we aren’t truly worshiping and will not experience the Lord’s presence among us.
Over the years, I have seen everything from “Jericho marches” to “holy laughter” to “slaying in the Spirit,” just to name a few, come into the church in an attempt to take our worship to a “deeper level” of spirituality. Years ago, I had a close ministry friend who became convinced that since our church didn’t participate in the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles, we were under God’s disfavor. Of course, he had scripture and verse to back up his claim. At about that same time, a Bible teacher in our fellowship had come to believe that it was wrong of us not to include a Passover Seder during Holy Week. She, too, had a Biblical passage to prove her point. At various other times I have had people tell me that we should be waving flags during our singing or blowing a ram’s horn as our call to worship. I could probably fill a chapter in a book with the variety of things that, according to these folks, we should be incorporating in our worship expressions. I wonder what the next worship craze will be: Ritual circumcision? Sacrificing goats? Reconstructing the Ark of the Covenant?
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these ideas are completely weird—except for those last three—they’re pretty weird! I do think that sometimes it is helpful to incorporate some of these things as a way of teaching the roots of our faith and giving us a stronger foundation for worship. But what I have trouble with is when people insist that certain expressions and practices are necessary to true worship.
The Apostle Paul pointed out that to insist on incorporating Old Testament worship practices into New Testament life was to slip back into the tutelage of the law. It was to willingly give up our freedom in Christ and come again under the domination of that from which Christ’s death and resurrection has set us free. Paul reminds us that we now live under a new and better covenant whose only requirement is that our worship comes as an expression of the overflow of a loving and grateful heart.
Jesus himself addressed this issue with the woman at the Samaritan well. A discussion was being had about the proper place and style of worship when Jesus made this declaration about new covenant worship:
“The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
The Father is looking for those who will worship him that
way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him
must worship in spirit and in truth.”
If you want to observe a feast, go ahead. If you want to wave a flag, go ahead. If you want to blow the shofar, go ahead. Just don’t make it into a law and insist that everybody does it—and must like it. And if you do any of these things, don’t draw attention away from Christ and on to yourself when you do them. Remember, worship is about exalting Christ, not feeling good about yourself.
Whenever you worship, wherever you worship, in whatever way you worship, just remember that the Father wants your heart. He is still seeking men and women who will worship him out of a sincerity of the heart and a theology that is rooted in the foundation of new covenant truth.
Prayer… Father, may grace and truth always season my worship. May you find in me a worshiper who gives you my heart and who stays cemented in your truth.
One More Thing… “When God’s people begin to praise and worship Him using the Biblical methods He gives, the Power of His presence comes among His people in an even greater measure.” — Graham Truscott