Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Public worship: the last word

But all things should be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40

Paul was committed to excellence in the public worship of the church. The Corinthian church had a problem. Their worship gatherings had become total chaos. Everyone showed up with the expectation that they would participate in the service (1 Corinthians 14:26). That was good. The problem was that there was no reasonable means or mechanism to oversee this. Paul spends a great deal of time showing how each gift and each speaking opportunity ought to be directed (1 Corinthians 14:27-33) emphasizing that any confusion is a sign that God is not in the process. God brings peace, and the worship of Him does the same.

I have seen this principle violated before in worship gatherings. Without this rule in place, the worship is uncomfortable at best. I do not have the experience of being in a totally chaotic gathering of Christians. I have, however, seen one (or twenty) on Youtube. They provide fodder for potshots at Christianity to land substantial blows. Paul knew what he was saying when he instructed churches to let excellence and order drive their public worship.

One argument the "freestyle" worship gang makes is that the Holy Spirit is not in an "order of worship". I think they are totally wrong. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul when he wrote this passage. The heart of the Holy Spirit in public worship is for God to be clearly worshiped so that the gospel can be proclaimed and Jesus can be glorified. And that means reasonable order should mark Christian worship. The God who created the earth out of a formless void is glorified in the order. Shouldn't His worship testify to this? The answer is a simple and emphatic, "Yes!"

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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