Summary: This message focuses on the remaining two hindrances to our worship.
Worship Is A Verb Part 4
This morning I will complete this part of the series that was focusing on the hindrances to our worship. So far we have discussed intellectualism, idealism, imperialism, isolationism and institutionalism. This morning we will discuss improperism and illusionism. I know you may be tired of the “isms” but just hang with me through this message.
The sixth hindrance to our worship is improperism. Something is improper when it is not consistent with truth, fact, or rule. It is deemed incorrect or in error. Let me share a story with you. When we lived in Arkansas, we attended a Church where there were several other ministers attending. One of the ministers thought it was his calling and his duty to make sure that the truth and nothing but the truth was preached and taught in the Church. Now mind you this would be fine if he was the pastor, but he was not. One Sunday after I had just finished delivering a message, he came up to me and said “Rev. Johnson, that was a good message and you told the truth and there was not an error in the message.” I looked at him and said “thank you.” Now this may all sound okay, but here is the problem. The truth in his opinion was based solely on how he interpreted the Scripture and anything other than that was wrong. Now there are people like this man within every Church that feel it is their duty to understand what worship is, how it should be done, and what is or is not proper for the service. The individual operating with this mindset is easily hindered in their worship when they witness something that is improper. Remember my example from last week about the question my sister asked me about people shouting in Church and if that was scriptural, that is also an example of someone who believes shouting should not be done operating with a disposition of improperism. With improperism, worship is improper when it is unbiblical, when attitudes about worship are unscriptural or when we substitute non-worship activities for worship during our corporate gatherings.
Let me share with you an example that Jesus encountered. Turn to Matthew 12:1-7. “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.’ (Vs. 1-2)
The first thing we notice is that Jesus and His disciples were walking in the fields on a Sabbath when His disciples became hungry. Because they were hungry, they reached out and took some of the grains that were growing and began to eat. Immediately the Pharisees lashed out at Jesus telling Him that His disciples were violating the Sabbath by eating the grain. Remember, according to Jewish tradition, harvesting (which is what Jesus’ disciples technically were doing) was forbidden on the Sabbath because no one was permitted to work. So because the disciples were picking grain to eat as they were hungry, they were doing something that was “improper” for those who truly worship the Almighty Jehovah according to the Pharisees. Now notice what Jesus said to them in response. “…..Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Vs. 3-7) Jesus told them that their understanding was flawed because they were judging the disciples based on rules of conduct, not based on what was in their hearts. He told reminded them of what David had done when he and his men ate the food that was only to be eaten by the priests. In both instances you had righteous men violating a tradition and/or rule of conduct. Jesus told them they did not understand that God desired compassion versus sacrifice. Again, compassion comes from the heart while oftentimes, sacrifices comes from the mind. The same things happen within worship services around the world. We would rather give God the sacrifices of our minds versus the true worship that originates from our hearts.
There are many “non-worship” activities that in the past we have equated with worship. In my earlier message I shared with you what some of these “non-worship” activities are, but let me refresh your memory. There is no worship taking place when we give a testimony? God is given credit for what He is doing, but that is not worship. Singing songs of deliverance is not worship. One Sunday I was choosing a song for praise service and Randy suggested another song because the song I had chosen really was not a “praise” song that was focused on God – it was focused on us. Reading the announcement and greeting our visitors is not worship. Taking prayer requests is not worship. All of these things are important to the success of our Church service, but they are not worship. There are other things that we do during our “worship” service that is not worship. In truth, we should call our Sunday morning service what it is, our Sunday morning Church service where we do spend part of it worshipping God. Every congregation has faced this hindrance as they have worked through what God is sharing with them about their services, but the difference in the outcome is what they decide to do about their service. There are things that we do that are not worship, but as long as we understand that and do not confuse the two, we are moving in the right direction.