God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NIV)
For a short season of my life, when I was about 3 years old, I only wanted to eat mashed potatoes.
(This is not a memory that has been stored in my memory banks. I learned of my antics from family members.)
As it has been reported to me, I would come to the dinner table every evening and ask what was on the menu.
When my mom described the menu, I allegedly voiced my displeasure if mashed potatoes weren’t being offered.
“Give me mashed potatoes or give me…well, just give me mashed potatoes!”
I’m sure I was a absolute pleasure to dine with.
Thankfully, for me and those around me, I expanded my palate. I gained a taste for a variety of foods. In time, I could go to a restaurant, look at the menu and choose from a variety of offerings. I had choices!
So where am I going with this?
Here’s something I’m finding among some of God’s people: they have extremely limited worship palates.
They believe that they can only worship God in a particular type of service or by means of specific style of music.
And when they aren’t served according to those particulars and specifications, they refuse to participate…and in some cases become vocal about their preferences.
Which I find really sad.
I mean, has God boiled down the type of worship He will receive into a singular format or style?
If so, just who has a corner on the worship market? And how can we know for sure?
Just to be clear, I’m not an advocate of “whatever goes,” free-form worship. I do believe there are scriptural principles to apply as we seek to honor God.
But if I can only really appreciate one style of worship…and have a hard time with all the others…I would have to surmise that I am missing out on a lot of good stuff.
Imagine going to another country where they sing in a different language, with different instruments and in different rhythms. Is it our job to tell them that they’re missing the boat because they don’t worship according to our proclivities and sensibilities?
No, I think it’s quite the opposite. I think our challenge is to find a way to worship along with them. To appreciate their heart and enjoy their style.
Remember, these are the people we will be spending an eternity with. So, it seems to make sense that we figure out how to celebrate our worship diversity rather than be divided by it.
For centuries, people have been looking for fresh expressions of an ancient faith.
They’ve looked for new ways to communicate the transformation that’s occurred in their heart.
As the Psalmist wrote:
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. ~ Psalm 40:3 (NIV)
We can appreciate the songs and liturgies of the past.
They remind us of our spiritual legacy.
They hold great meaning for us.
But may we never come to believe that the methodologies and songs of our day represent the entire canon of worship style.
As he has done for every generation, God will keep writing new expressions upon the hearts of those who sincerely want to worship Him.
How about you? Has your approach to worship resembled something like my attitude towards mashed potatoes?
Are you in a rut? Are you too comfortable? Are you putting limits on the ways worship can be expressed?
Maybe it’s time to ask God to help us expand our worship palate.
And even if we still find it hard to wrap our minds around a particular form or style of worship, may we at least rejoice in the fact that others desire to give God glory.