Are we worshipping God -- or just going through the motions?
A written copy of your "Order of Worship" or "Worship Guide" (Most churches have one, but may call it different things.)
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Mark 7:6b-7 (NIV)
Do you know what this is? (hold up the "Worship Plan") It is our "worship guide." We print one of these every Sunday. We do that so that everyone will know what we are going to do next in our worship service. Sometimes I wonder if we really need to print one of these every Sunday. After all, we do the same thing every Sunday. I think I could do in my sleep. In fact, I see some people every Sunday who do it in their sleep! Not really...I was only kidding. Or was I?
Now, don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a worship plan unless the plan becomes more important to us than worship. I heard about a church that got into a huge argument because the pastor changed the time when they took the offering during the worship service. "We've never done it that way before," the people cried. You see, some people are more concerned with WHEN and HOW we take the offering than they are with WHY we take the offering. Their traditions are more important to them than worshipping God.
This isn't a new problem. Even Jesus faced this problem. One day a group of people gathered around Jesus to listen to him as he taught. Some of the religious leaders noticed that Jesus' disciples had forgotten to wash their hands before they ate. They were really upset and asked Jesus why his disciples were not keeping the tradition of washing their hands before eating.
Jesus answered those religious leaders by telling them that a clean heart was more important than clean hands. I don't think that Jesus was saying it isn't important to wash your hands before you eat. He was saying that keeping the commandments of God is more important than keeping our own traditions.
I hope that we never become more concerned about WHEN and HOW we do things in our worship services than we are about WHY we do them. I hope we will always remember that true worship comes from our heart, not from our "worship plan".
Dear Father, help us to remember that we are in this place to worship you and that true worship comes from the heart. Amen.