It was Easter Sunday morning. My wife and I evangelistically invited her brother to the service at my grandmother’s church. This was a Foursquare Pentecostal church. I loved this church. I had spent a lot of time at this church as a child. It held special meaning to me. I was glad to be able to return to this church which was so fond in my memory. I never considered how it might be received by my brother-in-law.
He was not used to this kind of church at all. His experience had been the Church of Christ. There could not be two more different worship styles than the Church of Christ and Foursquare Pentecostal. All at once, nearly everyone in the church began to pray in tongues. He had no clue what was going on. He took my wife’s hand, squeezed tightly to get her attention and said, “Get me out of here.” Thankfully this experience did not drive him away from the church. He is a good Christian man with a big heart, but a sudden difference in our way of worship can be traumatic.
We each have our own set of rituals, protocols, and ways of engaging with the Lord. So long as Jesus is exalted as the Son of God, I reckon each of these is good and fine. Some like the organ and piano while others enjoy the heavy-metal worship bands. If Christ is glorified, then it is good. But to change what we are used to has proven to be one of the most difficult things for church-goers to experience.
We have gone through different phases in the church worship styles as far back as Catholic services ceasing to be in Latin. In my lifetime, we have moved from traditional to contemporary and from Bible churches to seeker-sensitive churches. One thing that will never change is that change is just around the corner. And we are seeing that right now. The coronavirus has made us the streaming church.
Many are frustrated, but when our mode of worship is forcibly changed, it does reveal the affection we have for our religion compared to our Lord. When we can’t go to an actual building to worship, do we just sleep in? While we are watching on Facebook live, are we meditating on what is being taught or distracted by the endless flow of media on our Facebook page? Has the change brought on by this virus shed light on our religiosity? And that brings us to our Verse of the Day:
The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (NIV)
During this time when our regular religious activity is not available to us, we need to evaluate if we were too connected to the form of religion and not connected enough to God. We must worship Him daily, seek Him daily, be in the Word daily, in prayer, giving our offerings. If we find we are not as engaged then perhaps, the Lord is wanting to help us see the danger lurking in us. He wants us to see that our relationship was too much about human ritual than spiritual worship.
How are you doing? How is your worship when the mode is forbidden? Are you as engaged in your living room as the sanctuary? Are you praying with the same fervor without the altars? Is your heart as penitent without the confessional? If nothing else, this is a time of self-reflection to monitor the human tendency to rely on ritual more than relationship. Let’s be vigilant to worship Him with all our hearts by whatever means our circumstance affords us today.
Leave me a comment. How is your worship experience in this virus-infected moment in time?