This coming Sunday’s bulletin article
How Do We Worship?
How do we worship? Being of the Church of Christ tradition we have a particular way in which we worship that differentiates us from the Baptists, the Lutherans, and other faith traditions. And, if you want to get even more specific, being a part of the Glendale Church of Christ tradition we have a particular way in which we worship that may differ from others even within our own Church of Christ tradition. How we worship varies from congregation to congregation, and even person to person.
Given the variances on how we worship, discussions can lead to heated debates and have even been known to cause splits, or schisms, in churches throughout history. If you are even marginally aware of Church of Christ history you probably know that around 1906 there was a schism in our tradition over worship separating those who use instruments in worship and those who worship a cappella.
If that seems a bit removed from you and your experience perhaps you would like an example that might hit a little closer to home. I have heard grumbling at various congregations about something as simple as singing too many new or old songs. Some prefer the older hymns and some prefer the newer praise type songs and it just goes to show that we all have our preferences and ways that we feel comfortable.
With that said, I think it is unfortunate that we cannot all agree on how we should worship. I think it would be an awesome sight to see all Christians throughout the world united in worship together. However, I do not think that is likely to happen because, after all, worship is a personal act. It is about the individual and God; and to be quite honest, the way I feel comfortable ascribing worth to my Lord may be different than the way that is comfortable for you.
For us all to come to some sort of common ground, and I think that is a worthy goal, we are going to have to change the lens through which we view worship rather than the methods by which we worship. In Romans 12:1 Paul says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)
Paul tells us that our worship is to be the offering of our bodies as living sacrifices. How are we to do that? I think in this passage Paul leaves it up to us. There are many ways in which we can offer our selves to the Lord and if that is really the case, then maybe we should be more accepting of how others worship. After all, worship could be feeding the homeless, singing a song, leading a prayer, or anything that utilizes your God given talents. The list is seemingly endless and if we are to look at all worship through this lens then there should be far fewer splits and schisms in the future and maybe the Church could be unified as a whole. Would that not be incredible?
Maybe I am a little too idealistic at my young age. And, maybe I am over simplifying the issue here. But then again, maybe we have made it too complicated over time. And, maybe, just maybe, we need to look upon each other with more compassion and celebrate the different ways we can worship our Lord regardless of style and preference. We are all different and unique, and yet we are called to be part of the same body. Let us not forget that.