Summary: A sermon developed around the diviersity of thought concerning what constitutes true worship.
“The Worship Wars”
John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Some of you may be asking yourself about my selection of the title to today’s message. Let me explain to you where God led me this week as a prepared my heart and mind for this sermon. I’ve been at this a long time, and I am not alone in what I am about to say, so here goes. There has never been a time in my recollection when there was more diversity of opinion about what constitutes Biblical worship. The problem as I see it is that it is difficult for us to separate tradition from truth. We focus on forms and not facts. We confuse message and methodology. As a matter of fact the methodology has become the message in many places. One fact that is certain is that men by nature are worshippers. F. W. Robertson wrote that: “Again, it is not a thing which man can decide, whether he will be a worshiper or not, a worshiper he must be, the only question is what will he worship? Every man worships - is born a worshipper.” If Robertson is right and I believe that he is then it is incumbent upon us to define true worship and dedicate ourselves to worship! What is the real truth about worship? This is an age old question. Men have been trying to answer this question for thousands of years. Wars have been fought and many have perished literally and spiritually in the worship wars. Even in our time we are still seeking the truth about this subject. There has never been a time when there was more diversity of opinion on this subject than right now! Dr. Elmer Towns writes that: “Worship is like a car to get us from where we are . . . to where God wants us to be. Transportation and communication are imperative, the mode or vehicle is not imperative. While it is imperative that we worship God, as long as we do it biblically, how we do it has second importance. Worship is like a car that gets us into the presence of God. Some worship God in cathedrals with the rich traditional organ tones of Bach, Chopin and the classics of Europe. They travel in a Mercedes Benz. Some worship God in simple wooden churches with a steeple pointing heaven-ward and sing the gospel songs of Charles Wesley or Fanny Crosby. They travel in a Ford or Chevy. Some worship God with the contemporary sounds of praise music with a gentle beat. They travel in a Corvette convertible. Some worship God to the whine of a guitar and the amplifiers to the max. They travel on a Harley, without a muffler.” This morning I want to share some truths about “The Worship Wars” that I trust will clear up the confusion and bless your life.
First there are:
I. Traditions in Worship
A. Determined by culture
For many, culture is the deciding factor in the traditions of how they worship. There are great differences between how we worship in the America’s as opposed to Europe, or Asia or Africa. Even in our part of the globe there is much diversity between North and South America. I personally have made several trips to Mexico and I can assure you that culture has a huge impact on how they worship compared to us. In Mexico young people grow up listening to the sounds of the guitar, not the piano or organ therefore it would not make sense to use an instrument that is foreign to their ears to try and reach them. They hardly ever start on time and they may sing for an hour before the preacher is invited to speak. I have been in services in Mexico that lasted 3 hours and no one complained! I have friends who go to Haiti regularly and tell me of worship services lasting 4-5 hours and that after walking 2 hours to get to a meeting place out in the hills. The Samaritan woman in our text worshipped very differently than the Jews based on the differences in her cultural background.
B. Determined by consumerism
From the founding of our country till World War II we were a nation of producers. Farming and manufacturing were the primary occupations for most Americans. After WWII leading up to today we have become a nation of consumers who are served by a large part of our population. Less than 25% of Americans are now involved in manufacturing and less than 5% are “down on the farm.” This has brought about tremendous change. Whereas people used to choose a church based on doctrine, name and denomination they now make that choice based on things like user friendly access, participatory services, experiential involvement, electronic amplification, contemporary music, options of worship time and choice of different worship experiences. Elmer Towns