God actually does care how we worship Him. When you put it that way, of course no one will disagree–at least not vocally. However, pragmatically many churches and pastors are organizing their Sunday morning worship service according to one mantra: “If it works…”, well, you know the rest. As I have been reading through the second half of Exodus and the first part of Leviticus (the part of the Bible that typically derails those New Year’s resolution Bible reading plans), I have been struck by the fact that God cares very much about exactly how we worship Him.
Now, I’m as New Covenant as they come; I believe the Law and its regulations found their fulfillment in Christ. However, the same God meticulously ordered worship in Leviticus that founded the church in Acts (I know, hard to believe). However, many Christians today operate as though most of God’s eternal attributes, besides his love, were nullified along with the Law. Even in that sentence, I have committed a fallacy, because the Law was not nullified, but rather it was fulfilled: brought to fullness, brought to its fullest completion, and made to achieve its final goal. So, if not even the Law was nullified (Matthew 5:17-20), how can we act as though God’s holiness, set-apartness, righteousness, and orderliness are somehow wiped away with the cross? If anything, the cross displays God’s ultimate intentionality (1 Peter 1:19-20), his true righteousness (Romans 3:25), and the loving nature of his holiness (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Is not the purpose of our worship the same now as it was in OT…to glorify the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit? The difference is that those of the OT were serving us, so that once Jesus came we would recognize him and glory in his amazing salvation (1 Peter 1:10-12). Will we now drop the baton? I am ashamed by how little I know of my Bible compared to those of OT days. Men lost their lives for offering unauthorized fire before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-2), Uzzah was struck dead for trying to steady the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:7), and yet I will treat flippantly the liturgy, music, and structure of our worship? “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15).
“Are you claiming it is sin not to give serious thought to how we worship God?” Well, let me put it this way: If the way you worship God does nothing to distinguish Him from the other thousands of “gods” out there, then there is something wrong. God must be worshiped for his amazing acts of salvation in the past. He must be worshiped for the gloriously humble sacrifice of his Son for sinners. He must be worshiped for the sanctification by the Holy Spirit that is graciously at work among the church. If all your worship says about God is that “He is love”–and the word “love” has as much meaning and structure as an amorphous bowl of jello mixed with a basket of puppies–then it is deficient.
God’s love acts. God’s love saves. God’s love is holy and righteous. Think about how you worship Him. If you were going to spend so much time doing one thing, wouldn’t you want to spend time making sure it wasn’t time and effort wasted?
One last note, I know some will claim that worship is merely God’s children crying out, “Daddy!” What is God’s objective behind the new birth? Does the Bible commend those who remain “babies” in the faith? Paul explains that we are not to remain children, but are to reach mature manhood, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-16).