Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"the New Testament pattern for worship"

"the New Testament pattern for worship"....

The very first Christians worshiped in the Temple, daily. What do you suppose they did during the daily instrumental praise which was being led from about 30 feet from their meeting area? Why doesn't Luke record the controversy that would surely ensue had the Christians been plugging their ears and telling their friends and families they were now sinning if they sang along with the instruments? Why didn't the enemy Jews ever list this point as one of the charges against the Christians? At any rate, the authorized pattern here is for us to assemble in some place where non-Christians are worshiping God with instruments.

And what about their daily meetings? That's the original New Testament pattern of worship. But we've subtracted from that pattern.

Why don't we take turns in the assembly, one by one, using whatever gift God has given us in order to build up the body? This is the pattern taught by Paul to the Corinthians.

Why do we take up a collection every week, perpetually, to pay the preacher and electric bill, pressing everyone to give? The New Testament pattern is for the giving to be a year-long fund-raising effort, by the wealthier, to give to the less wealthy. The poor didn't give; they received. And the money was not used to pay church expenses.

The New Testament pattern for the Lord's Supper is to eat it at night, not in the morning, as part of a bigger meal that should also feed the poor.

We have done very well at adapting the pattern of the Catholics so it looks at first glance like it came from the NT, but we've done a very poor job of following the actual NT "pattern".

And when Paul instructs his readers to teach one another using psalms, isn't it adding to God's word to insist that means "psalms, except the ones God has already given you"? Isn't it subtracting to not use those psalms for teaching when Paul himself used them often in his teaching?

Truth be told, there is no "pattern for worship" in the NT. But we have a psychological need for such a pattern, so amazingly we find that pattern (and explain away the pattern elements mentioned above that don't fit the pattern we've "discovered").

In the old covenant, based on keeping the letter of the law, God gave a definite written-in-stone pattern for worship. The new covenant is not like the old; it's based on keeping the spirit, not the letter of the law. But we (like children) have that psychological need for law, and so we've read between the lines and jigsawed this puzzle-passage with that puzzle-passage and have "found" the "New Testament pattern for worship".

We've gone from instructions written for all to see to instructions that are hidden so well that only "we", for two hundred out of two thousand years, have been able to successfully find and keep them.

Paul said that if law could bring life, the Mosaic law would have been the law to do it (Gal 3:21). And it couldn't do the job. Why then do we seek to find a different legal system? Paul said that doesn't work.

The new legal system, the law of Christ, is not a letter-of-the-law system. Instead, the law of Christ is fulfilled by bearing one another's burdens (Gal 6:2); the perfect law of liberty is fulfilled by taking care of orphans and widows and living a clean life (Jam 1:25-27); the royal law is fulfilled by loving your neighbor (Jam 2:8). This is the New Testament pattern of worship - to live one's life day-by-day honoring God with your lifestyle (Rom 12:1). It is not following an imagined set of rules on a certain day, rules having more in common with medieval Catholic practices than first-century apostolic practices.


Cindy Dy said...
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Gary Johnson said...

Well said, brother! I find it comforting to know that I'm not the only one that has ever thought that the Churches of Christ understanding on "worship" may just be wrong. I as well in my own personal studies have come to the same understanding of the Scriptures as you have.