Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is It Possible for Our Worship Services to be Idolatrous?

"And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the Lord with all his might." (2 Samuel 6:13-14)
"And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play....And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain." (Exodus 32:4, 6, 19)
Two scenes. Both include dancing. One receives approval and the other disapproval. What is the difference?

Is it not obedience to the pattern of worship? David was given strict instructions as to how to move the ark, and in the verses above, he follows those directions, unlike his previous disastrous attempt. Because he is obedient to the pattern given, his dancing is approved. But Israel, unlike David, does not follow the pattern given in Exodus 20:4: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image...." Therefore, their dancing is disapproved as rising "up to play."

Now, here is my question: Are Charismatics, Evangelicals and Reformed folk standing up to play in an idolatrous way, when we sing and/or dance in worship? How can we know? 

Isn't the answer, still, the issue of following the pattern of worship we are given in Scripture? That pattern is Jesus' meeting with us in Word and meal to teach us and give us his life, based on his pattern of teaching/sign and teaching/meal given in the Gospels, particularly Luke. That pattern is also elaborated in the church's devotion to four things: Word, meal, prayer, and fellowship, according to Acts 2:42. 

Our songs, then, are not to be play or entertainment or primarily an inducement to feeling, but rather they are Word (God speaking to us), prayer (our response to His speaking), or fellowship (our speaking to one another). Our songs must fit into the main pattern of Christ's teaching and meal, and the dialogue of worship that includes Word, prayer, and fellowship. If they do not, it could be that our worship bears the character more of Exodus 32 than 2 Samuel 6! 

O that we might truly search the Scriptures and reform our worship services, as was attempted in the Reformation, not according to our preferences, tastes, feelings, or desires, but according to God's Word! Then, we can know that our worship is approved by the only One whose approval truly matters.

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