What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding … For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints …Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:15,33,40)
Reverence In Our Worship Services
The New Testament church in Corinth faced many challenges and one of the main problems was found in their worship services. Paul addressed the questions of the Lord’s Supper, women disrupting the service, misunderstanding the purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the lack of reverence in the worship service. The Lord has always wanted man to worship Him in a manner that recognizes the holiness of who He is and what He has done for man. Throughout the Old Testament God shows the dangers of insincere or perverted worship. He did not give honor to Cain’s sacrifice because of his evil heart. Nadab and Abihu (sons of Aaron the High Priest) were struck dead as well as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) because of the lack of reverence due the name of the Lord. Moses told Aaron following the death of his sons that those who come near to worship the Lord God Almighty must regard Him as holy and before all the people the Lord must be glorified. The church at Corinth faced the same dilemma as their worship was disorderly and lacking reverence to the Lord.
Speaking in tongues was one issue that created confusion in the worship. The meaning of tongue speaking was the ability to speak in a foreign language. This was not the gibberish that is characterized by those today who claim to have the ‘gift of speaking in tongues.’ What became a problem was everyone wanting to speak in the language gifted to them by the Holy Spirit failing to give edification to the church. Imagine being in a crowd of people speaking six different languages (sometimes at once) and no one interpreting the words. It would be like a mad house. Praying and singing in a foreign language will have no benefit if no one understands the language. God is not the author of confusion desiring the worship services to be conducted in a proper manner with respect and honor for the occasion of His name. The Lord has never been pleased with the trappings of man’s irreligious worship or profaning the purpose of His glory by the disrespect of His people. True worship is one that is respectful and reverent for the purpose of which the glory of God is found as His people praise and honor Him. Paul’s conclusion is threefold: worship must be with clarity removing the confusion of distractions and engaged in a decent and orderly worship.
There are many distractions that take away from worship. A casual attitude has crept into the worship services of the Lord reflecting upon the manner of dress, refreshments, activities and teaching of children. Attempts are made to draw people in through the enticements of the world making the services more palatable for everyone. Coming to services on the first day of the week is only a blip in the radar for many as only a respite for a few moments from the rat race of the world. The problem has been the allowance of the world to intrude in the sacred privilege to come into the presence of God and worship Him. This is seen in the kind of clothes that are worn. Immodesty is one thing to deal with in the world but when women come to church services with short dresses, plunging neck lines and skin tight material it becomes an affront to the Lord. Spaghetti strapped tops are not unusual. Short shorts are not uncommon with young people. Sunday services are turning into the fashion runways of the world.
Disruption is common where casual talking and playing continues through the services. Children especially are never taught to sit quietly learning the sacred moments of why God’s people gather on the first day of the week. Playrooms are brought to the pews to entertain the children. IPads and electronic devices are given to the young people so they can never know why church services are important. Do we think we can teach our children reverence to the Lord when we allow them to frolic, play, talk, and laugh and play their favorite bubble bursting game or angry bird contest? Young children talk loudly through the services, scurry around under and over the pews, playing with neighbors behind them – and reverence to the Lord is completely lost. Parents fail to see how distracting this becomes to those who try to focus on the powerful message of the songs, the supper and the sermon. Visitors are shocked at the display of a disruptive service. This is not unlike the problems Paul faced in Corinth and the need to remind the brethren that worship service is to be with a decorum that is fitting the worship of the Most High God.
Children can learn to worship at a very early age. Adults should learn how to compose themselves during the worship as befitting the grandeur of the moment to honor the Lord. It is clear from Paul’s earlier writing about the Lord’s Supper that if the communion is not taken in a proper manner judgment will follow. How much more the worship offered God in the brief time we gather as one to honor the Lord God Almighty in reverence and devotion. We cannot allow the world to change the worship of God to be a lax and casual approach to our devotion to God. What Jesus experienced on the cross is a deeply moving time. Understanding the nature of grace and God’s love for sending His Son is a challenging emotion to consider. In the olden days of Ezra the people stood up when he read the book of God. This shows their reverence for His word. Sermons should fill our minds with the glory of God. We should leave the worship service changed people. The mandate of the Lord is His worship must be done decently and in order. It is a time of great praise and wonder.