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Opinion: The Holiness of Worship

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There has never been a day in which the church needed to take a stand and challenge society more than it does today.  The people of the world will not respect the Christian faith unless they see those of us who claim to be Christians setting a standard which challenges them.  If we conduct ourselves like the world does, then why would the world listen to anything we have to say on spiritual issues.  What is needed in today’s world is a church standing for what is right, not necessarily for what is popular or politically correct.  What we are finding today is that, in order to attract the people to a church and in order to have large numbers, churches are lowering the bar to such a low standard that the people of the world can step over it without ever feeling challenged or confronted with their sinfulness.  The implicit message to them is that they are all right with God since they came to church on Sunday.  That may or may not be the case.  Simply going to church is not the criterion by which we are made right with God.  I believe that a Godly person will go to church, but doing so does not make one Godly.

I think it is also very important for churches to make sure that what they do in worship is really what it is all about.  Too many churches of today are making everything appeal more to the desire to be entertained than to the desire to worship God in true Holiness.  I think we must be careful as to what we are calling worship.  Worship was never meant to be “convenient” for us.  It was never meant to appeal to our feelings and show us a good time.  It was never meant to be so blended with the world’s approach to entertainment that it loses its distinctiveness.  Worship is not for us.  It is for God.  He is the one who should be focused upon, not us.  He is the one who must be pleased with what happened in the worship time, not us.  He is the one to be satisfied, not us.  Our focus should be on him and not on whether or not the church service “appealed” to us or made us feel good about ourselves.  The measure of true Worship is not how many people one could attract to it.  The measure of true Worship is not how comfortable the world feels with it.  In fact, the world now feels so comfortable with what many churches are doing in the worship hour that see no real difference in it and some other form of entertainment.  The danger lies in the fact that they think this kind of “sanctified, self-fulfilling entertainment” carries with it some redemptive power.  It does not, and I often wonder just how God feels about what this self-centered, Yuppie, Baby Boomer generation has done to worship in order to make it fit in with the rest of the scope of their lives.

The ”Glory” of worship is all but gone.  It has been sacrificed on the altar of expediency, compromise and self-satisfaction.  I just want to hear a real Biblical sermon.  Real preaching is vanishing from the scene in today’s world.  Sermonettes for Christianettes is the order of the day.  Today’s sermons are short, shallow and devoid of any real useful information.  It’s all a show; a performance which is programmed for the purpose of making people comfortable and pleased with themselves.

More from Rev. Bill Harrell: Living in the “Overload Zone”

Our worship should, in some way, and to some degree, mirror the gravity of what took place on the Cross.  It is because of the Cross that we are even able to gather in worship.  What took place on the day Jesus was sacrificed was serious business.  We would not have the privilege of worship without what took place on the Cross.  It should always be in sight as we worship and if it is then I think people should think twice before they allow such a low bar to be set for it that the world has no trouble stepping right in and never feeling confronted with the seriousness of the moment.

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at wfh@williamfharrell.com. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is good to hear these truths from someone who is seriously concerned about the role of the Church. A sense of respect for past moral teaching has eroded. The traditions of the past are now considered by many to be out of touch and passe’. We again need to heed the warnings of the prophets, John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, and Christ Jesus himself. Repentance simply means to turn away from sin and begin again in a new life – humble, thankful, respectful, and hopeful.

  2. Another excellent commentary on worship in today’s world.I miss the old beautiful hymns we used to sing.They were based on the Bible not some peppy repetitious phrases meant to make us feel like clapping and dancing .No one seems to notice the hymn books have been removed from the church pews . No one seems to miss them. I asked where they went and was told “don’t know”. When we do sing the occasional old hymn I am ecstatic.I worry the younger people will never hear the old hymns and grow to love them as I do. Such a shame!

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