Public Worship Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
One of my favorite teachers on the subject of worship is Pastor Jack Hayford, former senior pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, CA. This week I am excerpting a portion from “A Man’s Worship and Witness” where Jack gives his own unique spin on one the very first worshiping communities—Cain & Abel (see Genesis 4).
Personally I am challenged by this story…not only from the original text, but also by the way Hayford has drawn applications for us as a worshiping community. From this, I have come up with a list of takeaways:
- As we bring an offering to God (ourselves), He wants all of us, not what is comfortable or convenient.
- Nothing less than our very best is really worthy of God.
- He doesn’t require what He does not provide.
- Man looks at the outside—God looks at the heart.
- No true act of worship can be separated from the need for the shedding of blood. Either we return to the old animal sacrificial system or we adopt God’s new covenant offer of the life of His son. (Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. - Hebrews 9:22)
- Uncontested spiritual warfare can be deadly. For the time being, Cain, an enemy of true worship, succeeded in quelling the sacrifice of praise offered by his brother. But unlike Abel, we are not left alone to be victimized by the Enemy in an effort to silence our praise. This is why we often pray that God would “bind the enemy” (Mark 3:27) prior to our worship experiences. We believe the One in us is greater than the one who is “in the world.”)
- If we allow our worship to go public, it will impact others. Some might be blessed and encouraged. Others will begin to pull away from us or, worse, try to discredit us.
- As Abel learned, worshiping freely with abandon in public places can be hazardous to your health! At the very least it can result in you being judged, ridiculed, less popular. Kind of like Jesus.
- In the end, warring over whose worship is more Christian or appropriate or godly still misses the mark. As wrong as Cain was, he still was not beyond redemption. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.”
- Sincere and God-focused worship touches His very heart! (“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering...” 4:4)