In the part of the Christian pool that I tend to swim in, corporate and private worship takes on many different forms. Personally, I not one to dance, but I don’t begrudge those who find that particular expression of worship fulfilling. I do like singing, as well as “dinging, shaking, and otherwise banging” on various instruments. And generally, those swimming around with me don’t begrudge me that, either.
I was very, very blessed to grow up in a deeply authentic denominational church with a L-O-N-G history of evangelical mission-oriented focus, so I have a good basis of comparison when it comes to worship style. Granted, it tends to be a bit messier over on this end, so I’m thankful for (and I say this all respect) God’s redemptive chlorine in the form of the Holy Spirit, Who has a real knack for cleaning up messes…but I’m getting off the point.
This account of God’s much abused prophet, (which I think was part of the definition of being a prophet during the Old Testament), Jeremiah, really has a timely lesson for the New Testament church of today. God (through Jeremiah) had told the some of the remaining Hebrew people (who, BTW, had specifically asked…) for direction from God concerning the recent and ongoing invasion of their nation by Babylon.
As usually, God’s reply, in addition to certain particulars, turned back to uncompromising obedience which would bring blessing and prosperity, even though it meant being under Babylonian rule for a time.
And, as usual, it was not what the people wanted to hear. The following was part of their reply~~
We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—
Busted! Notice that “we” is mentioned FOUR TIMES! It wasn’t about truth, not even necessarily what they perceived as truth concerning their idols. Had they even bothered to find out what their so-called “gods” wanted in the way of worship, or were they merely following a contractual pattern—if I do this, it will do that? In other words, their focus was all about the “we” in their worship.
Oops…I think I just stubbed my toe in the pool. How much of my forms of worship, private and corporate, has potentially denigrated into just that—forms? Things I do simply because I want to, or want something from God? Here’s an even more humbling one: how much of what I considered or even criticized my Christian brethren in the denominational deep end, with their quiet and stately hymns, is not mere forms in their hearts, but honest and true worship? (Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts, forgive me!)
To put it differently, just what is God’s “love language”; that is, what does HE want in my worship?
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
I guess the forms of worship are pretty inconsequential in God’s book, but really matters is what’s on His heart…
…so that we’re really swimming, and not just wasting time treading water.
Jeremiah 44: 17; 6:8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
*From The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman