Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. He meant that white Christians and black Christians often worship in separate churches. Recently I’ve noticed a new kind of Sunday morning segregation. It’s increasingly common for churches to divide according to worship style, holding traditional services for older folks who love organ-powered hymns and contemporary services for younger people who enjoy choruses led by praise bands.
Churches do this because it works. Many grow exponentially as they meet the felt needs of their worshipers. But something about this practice doesn’t feel right. Shouldn’t Spirit-filled Christians be worshiping together? Your style might not be my preference, but why can’t we appreciate our differences and sing each other’s music?
Our problem could simply be old-fashioned selfishness, but I fear it might be worse. Could it be that we have created an idol out of our worship? Are we unwilling to allow Jesus to meet us in fresh ways? We might be like the Israelites who were so impressed by the bronze serpent that had healed their poisonous bites that they began “offering sacrifices to it” (2 Kings 18:4). There was nothing wrong with the bronze serpent—centuries later Jesus used it to refer to Himself (John 3:14)—but it was only a tool.
You may have heard God’s voice while singing “Amazing Grace” or felt particularly alive during the chorus of “As It Is in Heaven.” Thank God for that. But remember that the bronze serpents in your life are never meant to be ends in themselves but to lead you to Jesus. For it is when He is “lifted up” that He “will draw everyone” to Himself (John 12:32).
Real worship focuses on Jesus, not tradition or preference.
How can you tell when your preference for a worship style, a pastor, or an author has turned into idolatry?
How will you pursue real worship?
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”