The Form of Worship
The Form of Worship
Words of Faith 5-22-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,  and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner."
 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
We learn a great deal from this story about worship. But this story does not to teach a form of worship. If so, we would all bring alabaster jars to worship and then wail and cry. We would wipe each others feet with tears and with our hair. Some of us are not well equipped for such an activity! We could create a whole religious thing out of it.
No, worship is about the Spirit. It is about attitude, humility, gratitude and thanksgiving so great there is nothing too precious to give. Nothing.
It is important these days to realize that Worship is not music. Music is just one art form that is very popular in expressing the emotion of worship toward God. But music can be empty as well. Even with the popularity of worship music these day we must realize that worship is always a relationship and music is only the expression.
Worship is not the same as any particular art form. The arts are simply expressions appropriate to the relationship. Music is very expressive of emotions and thought. So is dance. Worship is not dance even though dance is expressive of emotions and celebrates beauty. Worship is not liturgy, even though such literary arts can express emotions toward God. Worship is not about new songs or old songs. It is not Handel and Haydn any more than it is contemporary music like Passion or Hillsong. Handel can be empty or full just as Hillsong can be empty or full, because worship is not about the form it is about the Spirit.
Worship is not about the opinions of people. When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." This lady had led a life of shame. She had seen the looks of the townspeople. She knew what people would likely think. But she did not let that get in the way.
Jesus also knew this woman had led a life of shame. There are no secrets around Jesus. He could have stopped this whole display of emotion toward Him. He could have spurned the worship, but He did not. Jesus could see that the Spirit of Worship was on this woman even though Simon the Pharisee could not.
The truth is worship that honors God may offend some people. Please understand. Worship does not intentionally draw attention to self or attempt to offend others. Some worship "expressions" that claim to be "free" are really a show of false spirituality, done to give an impression. They are a performance calculated for effect.
Jesus was critical of any worship that was a show. He said that the Pharisees "pray with many words." That is not the spirit of worship. But if there is genuine worship, nothing will get in the way of that spirit. A true attitude of worship will neither draw to nor be dissuaded by the opinions of others.
A few years ago, I was with a group in the Holy land and we went into the Church of the Nativity, which marks the birth of Jesus. This 4th century church is one of the oldest in existence and there was a long line to go into the "grotto" that marks the place of Jesus' birth. Our group decided to gather near the upstairs ornate "chancel" to read the Christmas story and softly sing a few carols. We quickly drew attention from a policeman with the Palestinian Authority who came over and banged a big staff on the ground. He said, "No worship! No worship here! No pray!" I had to just smile as I thought to myself, "There are many things you can forbid, but that is not one of them." In its pure form, worship is a love relationship with God that cannot be suppressed or oppressed.
Father God, teach me the life of worship. Show me what is means to love You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Draw me close to You. Never let me go. In Jesus' name.