Summary: This is #7 of 7 on worship. This focuses on accepting differences among brethren.
In Spirit and In Truth
A Series on Worship
#7: Unity in Worship
What we’ve seen so far in this series
• Worship is a day in, day out spiritual activity
• Spiritual worship begins with the heart
• The Bible does not speak of a “worship service” for Christians
• What we do in public worship is affected by our culture and our tradition
• We run the risk of binding our traditions on others
• It has not been easy for us to let the Bible speak for itself
Birds of a feather?
• The Bible teaches that Christians are not all the same, although we are all part of the same body
• Observation tells us the same thing
1) Expressiveness—Some are more expressive, others more reserved
2) Left-brained/right-brained—Some are more logical, others more emotional
• Can you see how differences like these can affect worship?
Randy Harris spoke at the Sermon Seminar in Austin of the differences between "Jeopardy" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" He said, "We have been a ’Jeopardy’ brotherhood in a ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ world."
• Focus on logic; avoidance of emotion. Some have gone so far as to say that emotion has no place in worship. This is wrong. Can we remember Jesus’ death and not feel emotion? (My grandmother cried every time she took the Lord’s Supper). The Bible commands us to rejoice… is this not emotion? The Bible commands us to have zeal and fervor… these are emotions.
What is wrong is not emotion… what is wrong is emotionalism. What is wrong is to seek emotion for the sake of emotion and to let emotion drive our worship.
• Worship services not designed for expressive people. We have often practiced an unspoken censorhip, and at times, a spoken censorship.
Ex.—I remember a man named Hugo Gaitán in the church in Argentina. Hugo had come out of Pentecostalism. Many people didn’t like the way Hugo prayed. He would start rather softly, then grow to almost a shout at the climax of his prayers. Someone commented to him that we don’t pray like that in the Church of Christ. That person was wrong. I don’t pray like that, but Hugo does, and he is a part of the church. And we have no biblical basis to tell him to change his praying style.
• One study showed that 70% of those who left the Church of Christ did so because of our worship style
We need to allow everyone to worship God in appropriate ways.
We should not try and force the person that is not expressive to worship God in an emotional way. In the same way, we should not force the expressive person to inhibit their appropriate displays of emotion.
Some biblical expressions of worship and faith
Saying “Amen” (I Corinthians 14:16)
Even if you don’t feel right doing these things in public worship, I hope that you will try them in your private worship. Bowing your head and closing your eyes are not the only biblical way to pray. Try kneeling. Try raising your hands to God.
1) Neither the one who does nor the one who doesn’t should feel superior (14:3)
3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
It’s so easy for one group to look at the others as “cold” because they don’t do certain things. It’s easy for the others to see those who are more expressive as “charismatics” or as “wanting to change the church.”
2) No one should be caused to stumble (14:13-15, 20-21)
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
In some translations the word “offend” has been used in some passages. While this is a possible translation, it doesn’t carry the full weight of the Greek words that Paul uses. One of them means a stumbling block; the other means a trap that makes one fall. Romans 9:33 shows us the meaning; it was something that kept the Jews from coming to salvation.