Nov 27, 2004

Acceptable to God

A common question a fellow Christian might ask you is: “What kind of church do you go to?” The question has little to do with the denomination or creedal stance of the church; it is a question of worship, or, more specifically — worship style. Is it “contemporary” or “traditional”? Not too long ago in history, the question was “Catholic or Protestant?” Then it became: “Is it Spirit-filled?” And by the end of the last millennium, the real test of orthodoxy was whether your church believed in a “pre-,” “mid-,” or “post-tribulation” rapture.

Now that the threat of global computer meltdown has subsided, we find ourselves with a new concern in the church. Worship has become center stage, and the house remains divided as music and liturgy remain at the fore of the debate. But no matter how our outward worship styles differ from one another, our inward motivation ought to be the same. This should be unanimous. If our worship is not biblically motivated, then our worship is not biblical worship, and if our worship is not biblical worship, then our worship is not acceptable to God.

So what is acceptable to God? The nature of God dictates the nature of true worship. Similarly, what we think about God is what dictates the kind of worship we give Him. In Hebrews 12:18–20, we read about the awfulness and severity of God as He communicated to His people through their natural senses. The voice of the Almighty penetrating the ears of the people even caused Moses to say, “I am trembling in fear” (12:21). Fear and trembling was certainly an appropriate response on the part of Moses (Prov. 1:7). But how should this passage affect our worship today? We don’t hear God’s voice like they did. Should we tremble like Moses?

There are those who would say, “No, that was Old Testament, we live in the New Testament age. We should worship out of adoration instead of fear; gratefulness instead of duty.” Rather than falling into the “either/or” trap, the author of Hebrews gives a third alternative of “both/and.” If we continue reading the passage, we find our answer. New Testament believers come to meet God at a different mountain (v. 22), but we come to meet the same God. His nature has not changed, and, as in the days of Moses, our worship must be tempered by the same necessary inward components. Thus, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (v. 28).