Summary: Does it seem to you that worship is not as orderly and dignified as it used to be? Well, you’re not alone. Complaints about worship have existed since the beginning of Christianity.
Does it seem to you that worship is not as orderly and dignified as it used to be? Well, you’re not alone. Complaints about worship have existed since the beginning of Christianity. In fact, the reading we heard from 1 Corinthians a few minutes ago was Paul’s response to a complaint about disorderly worship.
The Christians in Corinth were so undisciplined in their exercise of spiritual gifts during worship that there was chaos. Such chaos reflected badly on God, who was the giver of spiritual gifts. Confusion affects our ability to live according to the spiritual laws of God’s kingdom. Confusion causes indecision, frustration, passivity and lack of progress. These things go against God’s will, because God wants peace.
One thing that did disturb worship in the church in Corinth was the speaking in tongues by people who claimed to have a message from God. Paul told the Corinthians to carefully evaluate these messages, and we must also carefully evaluate similar messages today. False teachers were in the church in Corinth, and they are still in the church today. People who claim to speak under the prompting of the Holy Spirit could be mistaken. In either case we must determine if their message is scripturally valid.
This does not mean that we must not exercise our spiritual gifts. On the contrary, we must be able to exercise our gifts, but in a way that is not competitive or disorderly. In many churches worship has become a spectator sport. If every worshipper became meaningfully involved in worship, the lives of other worshippers and the quality of worship would be enriched. (Pause)
People who come to worship must be able to understand what is sung and said. People need to feel that what is said and sung can apply to their lives. Worship must not use words that the people don’t know without explaining what these words mean. People have different needs, and when the church recognizes this, it lays the foundation for an orderly way of honouring God.
Paul emphasizes that worship must be done decently and in order, but today there are times when it is appropriate to necessary to have a little disorder. One example is churches that use modern music and modern musical instruments. For some people, this is confusing, but to others (especially younger people), this is a means of worship. We must not allow worship to be dictated by our personal preferences, but at the same time we must take care to make certain that there is a certain degree of dignity in worship. In worship, we are to come and stand by the promises of God. We must also have a desire to think and act in a way that causes unity with our Christian brothers and sisters. (Pause)
Paul gave three rules for exercising the gift of prophecy during worship:
1. Only 2 or 3 people should prophesy during a service.
2. They are to speak in turn-one at a time.
3. If they speak in tongues, an interpreter must be present.
Paul also gave four rules for speaking by prophets:
1. Only 2 or 3 are to speak.
2. Other prophets were to judge what was said.
3. If while one prophet was speaking God gave a revelation to someone else, the speaker was to defer to the one hearing from God.
4. Each prophet was to speak in turn.
Genuine prophets and people speaking in tongues would submit to these principles, and they must still submit to these same principles.
God doesn’t just want peace in the church. He also wants peace in our lives. For example, one of the main causes of stress in our lives is the lack of peace. Some of us are so used to stress that we don’t know what to do with ourselves if we aren’t busy. Stress affects us physically, mentally and emotionally. The only way we can have peace in our lives and peace in worship is through faith in Jesus.