John T. Willis

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A Show or Genuine Worship?

A fundamental issue for all human beings is whether we are genuine about our religious motives, beliefs, practices, actions, and experiences. Jesus focuses on this in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:1-18.

All of this is a heart issue. When we gather together for a religious assembly, we do many things. Is this a show or genuine worship? All of us realize that NO ONE PRESENT KNOWS--BECAUSE a person may seem to OTHERS to be genuine or false. In each case and for each person, this depends on the heart and the way of life of the person involved. Let's test this, beginning with Jesus' own teaching in Matthew 6:1-18.

1. Is giving a show or genuine generous sharing for the good of others and to glorify God? 6:1-4. Let me cite ONLY TWO of several possible extremes.
a. There are some church people who give generously because they are able to do this because they are rich. But if the majority of the church differs with the ideas or beliefs or interpretations of the Bible championed by that person, that person attempts to hold the whole church in hostage, or causes friction in the spiritual body, or moves to another church. Is such giving genuine?
b. There are some church people who feel the church or God Himself does not love and encourage them because they do not have the resources to give a large amount of money. Jesus' assurance of the gift of the poor widow in Mark 12:41-44 should lay this feeling to rest.

2. Is prayer [public praying before the church] a show or genuine speech to God? 6:5-15. The person praying may utter a marvelous prayer but not be acceptable to God because in his or her heart may be a mere "show off" to the church so everyone will praise him or her for the tremendous prayer. Or, the person may utter a poorly stated prayer and be acceptable to God because it is from the heart and life of that person.

3. Is fasting a show or genuine practice? 6:16-18. Some people assume that if a person fasts, that person is "showing off" his or her "religiousity." Some people assume that fasting is a deeply committed practice to glorify God. Only the heart of the person involved can know.

4. Is preaching a show or genuine proclamation? An eloquent speaker may appear to be genuine and committed to God, when in reality that person may be counterfeit. Any sermon may be a show. No one knows but the speaker to proclaims the words.

5. Is a song leader leading a song a show or genuine worship? The song leader may have a wonderful voice and uplift the hearts of the audience. But that song leader may be false. Only his or her heart can know.

6. Does a group of song leaders put on a show or worship God genuinely? Some in the audience think these are great song leaders; others think they are only putting on a show. Who knows which is correct? ONLY the hearts of these song leaders know.

7. Is partaking in the Lord's Supper a show or genuine worship? Merely eating the unleavened bread and drinking the wine is not necessarily genuine worship. Any time a church participates in the Lord's Supper may be only a show. It all matters about the heart and lives of those participating.

8. Is making announcements for the people of God a show or genuine worship? Great announcements may come from ungodly hearts and lives, or they may come genuinely from the heart. No one knows in any case. This all depends on the heart and life of the speaker.

It is inappropriate to go to church and keep a beady eye on whether a preacher or a song leader or a worship team or a person leading prayer or whatever. We gather to focus on God and attempt to worship God, not to scrutinize and criticize and badger others in the family of God.

May God help us change our attitudes, our hearts, our lives to focus on God, to glorify God, to exalt God, and to think well of others. We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God.

Share YOUR ideas and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • Thank you, all too often I presume to know the hearts of others.

    By Blogger Russell, at 6:04 PM  

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