Pella Chronicle

May 16, 2013

Gathering to worship

By Rick Cowman
The Chronicle

Pella —

This week I’d like to expand on my discussion of chapter 4 from the gospel of John, and for the next few installments of this column our subject will be worship.  It’s interesting how many different opinions there are out there about worship.  And most of us will be attending a “worship service” this Sunday, so it’s important for us to understand what it means to worship!
Perhaps it would be helpful for us to look at a conversation Jesus had with someone on this subject.  In John chapter 4, Jesus was talking to a woman who was confused about worship.  She was a Samaritan woman, and in her conversation with Jesus, she said:  “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
It’s interesting to me that it was the woman who brought up the subject of worship.  In her conversation with Jesus, her lifestyle was revealed.  This was a woman who had experienced much pain and discouragement in her life, and in fact was coming to the well at a time when no one else would be there because she was ashamed of who she was and was afraid of the ridicule of others.  Yet, she was asking Jesus about worship.  To me, this shows she was a “seeker”!  She was desperately seeking a connection with God!  But she was missing that connection because she got hung up on how and where worship should take place….sound familiar?
How easily conflict arises out of disagreements over the style of worship and the type of music we use to express our worship to God.  You know, “We believe a worship service should be done this way, but they do it that way!” Or, “They sing those types of songs, but we believe only this kind of music should be sung in church!”  It’s interesting that folks will defend the traditions of singing only the great hymns of the Church, not realizing that those great hymns were blasted when they were introduced because many of them were written to popular bar tunes of the day!  Even the latest version of the King James Bible was considered heretical because it was a rewrite of an earlier version, but today many consider it the only translation to use because it’s a traditional version.  Folks, we need to understand that everything that is now traditional was once contemporary!  Did you get that?
So, here’s the point.  Worship isn’t about style or music!  It’s about the heart!  And the conflict we enter into over worship is about the heart as well!  Look at the response Jesus gave the woman’s statement in verses 23-24.  He said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  Listen, true worship happens when our spirit connects with the Spirit of God!  It’s not about the music!  It’s not about the building we meet in!  It’s not about our style or expressions of worship!  It’s all about the HEART!  It’s about our hearts connecting with God’s heart!  Jesus said He seeks that kind of worshipper!  And that kind of worship can happen without music, without an auditorium, and without anyone else around!
Here’s the deal.  It’s very possible for us to attend a worship service and not worship.  It’s possible to come together and sing songs about worship, but miss worship altogether!  And this is exactly what WILL happen if we allow ourselves to focus on our differences in preferences instead of focusing on our love for the Lord Jesus Christ!  So, as we gather together this Sunday, let’s consider our attitudes!  Next time we’ll look at little deeper into this subject of worship, and what it really is!