Summary: 3rd in Take a Hike: Walking in the Spirit series. This is about having freedom to worship God the way He made us, not being subject to others’ rules about how to do it.
Colossians 2:13-23 – Freedom of Worship
I’d like to share just a few words with you tonight about worship. We’ve been doing it, we’ll continue to do it. But I’d like to share a scripture with you tonight to help you along in it. Turn with me to Colossians 2:16.
The idea of this message flows from a conversation Michelle and I had the other night after she came home from a women’s worship service she had on Grand Manan. The leader had them stand and clap and so on. Nothing wrong with that. But when one of the songs mentioned bowing down before God, she didn’t lead the women to do that. It seemed like a bit of a double standard, you know: “The song says clap so you should clap. The song says bow, but don’t worry about it.”
And I got to thinking about worship in the life of a believer. In these Sunday night services, we’ve been looking at Walking in the Spirit, and worship is part of that.
Our scripture tonight deals with what a believer is, and how he or she should live. Because of what Christ did for us, how should we live? V13 – we are forgiven. The slate is clean. We are OK in God’s sight. V14 – the record of charges against us is wiped out. The written code, the list of things that we have done wrong, is gone. It is useless. What we did in our previous lives no longer matters. V15 – and whenever we are reminded what we were, we can stand in the truth that Satan is defeated, we are on the winning side, and the past is not counted against us. The cross cancelled out our past with its sins.
V16 – Therefore. Because of this. In light of what we have just heard. Because God no longer counts our sins against us, we do not have to let others judge us either. What kind of judgements do we make? In the area of worship.
V16 lists things that all deal with worship, with how we speak to God, how we get along with God, how we connect to Him. The foods and drinks were about what was appropriate for believers. The religious festivals were about worship and thanksgiving. The New Moon celebrations and Sabbath days were about the right way to worship, the right day to worship.
But v17 helps us out. V17. It’s not about these – these are only shadows, only pictures, only reflections of something better. Worship is not about the right way or the wrong way. Worship is about Christ. It’s about loving Him. It’s about putting Him first instead of the forms and traditions of it all.
Then v18-19 help us even more. V18-19. They are about people, teachers, leaders, who insist that things have absolutely got to be done a certain way, or else it isn’t right. These people insist on things that are not clearly stated. It’s false humility, insisting they beat themselves up to feel good. It’s angel worship, insisting that you need more than you already have. Listen: people who insist that you have to worship a certain way, their way, or else you’re wrong, have an unspiritual mind. They’ve lost connection to Jesus. And whatever growth that happens in their churches or their lives happens because they did it, not because Jesus did it.
Please understand: I’m not talking about one particular church or denomination. I mean, people who insist that you have to worship a certain way. You have to clap. You have to shout. You have to dance. You have to have communion. You have to have bulletins. You have to have a certain liturgy. I mean, rule-givers and law-makers.
But Paul goes on: v20-22. He says, you’re free. You don’t have to worship in a certain format. Jesus said in spirit and in truth. As in, mean it, and be honest before God while you’re doing it. That means, just because somebody tells you to worship a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. Don’t do it because someone tells you. Do it because it’s right. Listen: you don’t have to worship a certain way. You are free to worship in your own way, as God made you. Feel free to worship as you see fit.
There are all kinds of forms of worship. The Bible lists many. Psalm 95:6 says to bow down. Psalm 47:1 says to clap. Psalm 95:6 says to kneel. Nehemiah 9:5 says to stand. And Luke 6:23 says to leap. Psalm 134:2 says to lift your hands. Psalm 150:3-5 says to use musical instruments, and Psalm 147: 1 says to sing. Psalm 66:1 says to shout, while Habakkuk 2:20 says to be silent. Psalm 96:8 says to bring an offering, and then of course, Psalm 149:3 says to dance.