Lecture 03: Worship (Part 3)
Lecture: Worship (Part 3)
IX. The substance of our worship is always more important than the style or form of our worship
This is a very important principle in my thinking; the substance of our worship is always more important than the style of our worship. What is going on in our hearts as we worship will be more important than any particular format of our worship. I shared a story trying to illustrate this in our first day together in regards to my criticism at the Lutheran seminary when I was there. I remember being rebuked by my Lutheran professor for whom he thought that the liturgy really was worship. For him the Lutheran liturgy was worship, but for me, it had very little meaning when I first experienced it. I was very arrogant as I criticized him with the whole concept of liturgy was problematic to me. But upon reflection over the years, I came to realize that not only was this was worship for him because of what was going on in his heart; I was wrong and arrogant about the form of my own worship in my own church. I had convinced myself that we were free and fresh and spontaneous, but in fact, we were liturgical also. Unlike his, our liturgy wasn’t time tested and wasn’t rich with Scripture. We went through the same thing week after week, basically following the same style in the very same pattern. However, our spontaneity lacked the depth of the liturgy that he was using. Even if we have a rich liturgy, the content would be far more important than the style. So, it doesn’t matter to me whether it is free-flowing charismatic or revival style Baptist or highly liturgical. This isn’t the issue; it is more the content that is more important along with the substance of our worship and also the substance of our hearts.
X. Our response includes the element of offering or giving
This is the last one of these preliminary principles. So, our response includes the element of offering or giving. In the Bible in both the Old and New Testament, this is a key aspect of worship. It always involves giving to the Lord or an offering to the Lord. From the very first worship experiences in the
Old Testament, Cain, and Abel bringing offerings to the Lord. One turns out to be acceptable while the other one wasn’t acceptable. With the person worshiping with what shall I bring unto the Lord; even with previous passages we see that God wants something more than sacrifice. There is still a sense that you know that you are supposed to give something in response to the Lord. So, David asks what the Lord wanted; was it burnt offerings? No, it was humility. However, it is still a giving to the Lord. In Psalm 116 which says that I love the Lord because he heard my voice; he inclined his ear unto me. Therefore, I will call upon him for as long as I live. As the Psalm continues; it asks, what shall I give unto the Lord for all that he has done for me. I will lift up the cup of salvation; I will call upon the name of the Lord.
The idea of offerings, consistently through the Old Testament; Micah 6 that we have already read. What do we offer? We offer justice and mercy and humility. In the New Testament, we offer up our whole beings. The offering of ourselves is a critical idea of worship in both the Old Testament and New Testament. What are some of the things in the New Testament sense; what are some of the offerings that we are called to make? We don’t offer up burnt offerings. Romans 12:1 is the easy one; is there anything else? We offer the sacrifice of praise and in Philippians 4:14-19 when Paul is commending the Philippians for their generosity to him, he said that this was an acceptable offering to the Lord. One of the reasons why I am not so keen on the practice of taking the offering away from the worship service. There used to be the idea of putting a basket outside the door. When the basket is outside the door, there is still an offering being made, but I like the idea of it being explicit part of the community worship. We can think of Dorcus in Acts 9:32 and Acts 10 with Cornelius in verse 2. He was a devout, God-fearing person who gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. In verse 4, an angel appears saying, your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. So, the same idea of offering, the generosity, and gifts to the poor as well as the prayers. The New Testament church has a beautiful description; their generosity and giving not just extended to their spirituality, but the free sharing of all that they had.