I left our Christmas eve service last evening feeling angry and confused… okay not so confused as angry but left in a conundrum nonetheless. A sad state of affairs on Christmas Eve. Our Pastor had invited a woman to share her testimony with the church. It was a story of years in the faith and then a rebirth in that faith about midway through her life (she is probably in her 70’s). What struck me about it was that her entire speech was a drive towards “contemporary” worship. It actually got down to the comment that whenever she worshiped, or praised God, she had to raise her hands in the air and that she didn’t see a whole lot of that in our church. It was then intimated that the lack of such behavior in the church meant lack of faith, there was even a veiled hint from there, re-affirmed later in the service, that such people were akin to Judas, walking in the footsteps but not believing in their heart. So why am I angry, could I perhaps be that Judas?
Nope, funny enough the woman used 1 Timothy 2:8 to support her argument, ” I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Okay so the basis for her speech was the NIV translation, but it says the same thing, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” I wonder if she had read the rest of that chapter in Timothy prior to using it for that argument. If you haven’t read it yourself it is traditionally this passage, and one other, that gleans the comment from women that “Paul must have been one big male chauvinist.” There are at least three other places in the New Testament alone that support Paul’s comment here about women being silent in church. Now, do I think that women are inferior to men? No, my wife is a beautiful mind and woman capable of so much more than I am and I have three daughters who are cut from the same mold. But what I do believe is that the Word is God’s Word and who are we to take it so lightly.
At the end of the service the overall theme was that folks who do not choose to engage in “contemporary worship” probably had not accepted Christ fully. They had just been judged from the pulpit, sadly not only from this woman. In so many places in scripture we read of people who “fell, or fall,” down before God and worship Him. There is a reverence there that I think we sometimes miss:
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:10,11
I am reminded of the publican who stood in the temple with the pharisee, humbly before God, confessing his sin and his unworthiness before his Creator. The difference is I know of the saviour and that my sin has been paid for. Does it make we want to jump up and down and wave my hands in the air? No, it fills me with reverential awe, the fact that God would send His only Son to live in a frail human body, suffer for all of mankind’s sin, descend into hell and rise again so that we may have the same inheritance. Honestly it moves me to tears, how can I but stand before my God with a tearful and thankful heart, like a son before a father, with reverence, thankfulness and love because He has done this for me, and for you, who were once so unworthy.
The last part of this puzzle is that I let my human nature get hold of me last night and I forgot the truth of today, that a young child was born to suffer for me that I might receive a part of His inheritance. Awe inspiring.