Before we take this week’s lesson title (Conformity, Compromise and Crisis in Worship) as an excuse to proscribe forms of worship that we do not like, we need to consider worship in its wider context. There are three aspects of worship (Yes I am well aware that my classification is not the only one but this one helps me)
- Personal worship: this is the time that we spend by ourselves in prayer, study and meditation
- Community worship: this is the time that we spend together sharing our worship as a common experience
- Living worship: this is the rest of the time when we worship and honor God in the way we live and share Him with others
Most of the arguments I hear about worship is about community worship. There are those who want three hymns, prayer, offering and 40-minute sermon; then there are those who want some gospel singing, some sharing time and maybe a shorter sermon. And there is a wide spectrum of wants in between. Some want choirs and organs, others want guitars and bongos. Some want the children involved, while others want a cerebral, challenging discussion. The list is endless and we are good at quoting (misquoting) the Bible and writings of Ellen White to get our point of view across.
My concern that we are often more interested in our particular view of worship than about worship itself. Following are some compromises that I think seriously endanger the effectiveness of our worship today:
- Personal worship is about developing our personal relationship with God. All too often we compromise this relationship by ignoring it completely or confining it to a quick text and a prayer like a dose of castor oil.
- Community worship is about developing our community relationship with God. We compromise our community worship by seeking our kind of worship rather than sharing our worship. Community worship is like the ordinance of humility – we should think how we can serve others.
- Living worship is about sharing our relationship with God with others. We compromise all our worship if we go through the motions of personal and community worship without it affecting how we live our lives as a “living sacrifice” to God. This is where the rubber of worship hits the road of life.
Sometimes we look for the compromises of papacy, charismatics, mysticism, and apostate protestantism when we are harboring the compromise of hypocrisy.
[This post first appeared on the Email Discussion list, of which Maurice Ashton is a moderator.]