A number of weeks ago, I read an article by a friend of a friend in regards to teetotalling (the practice of not drinking alochol- at all, ever). He brought up some great points about Christian liberties in Scripture as it comes to motives and such. Long and the short, I have never drank and never will, at least not intentionally. I ate a bread pudding in bourbon cream sauce once and do believe the bourbon was not sufficiently creamed.
All alcohol aside, though, last week I encountered a different application of Christian liberties, equally controversial. Worship.
First off, it's a shame that worship is, in fact, controversial. It shouldn't be, but we like to make Biblical commands controversial. Apparently, life is more exciting that way.
I "attend" two "churches." To one I claim official membership, while the other I claim a majority of my fellowship. One, I am faithful to attend every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. It is where I serve in the prints and publications division (there isn't one, but that's the best way to describe what I do). In the other, I get to be one of the body. My purpose in the second is to fellowship with likeminded believers of similar place in life. It is markedly more contemporary.
Sunday night was one of the first nights I made it to the worship service of church B. I usually miss that because I am trying to finish up my church A. Last week, I skipped church A altogether and went to church B instead.
I am still adjusting to it all. About two hundred people crammed in a teeny tiny room with really strong acoustics. It gets loud. Not because we are trying to make it into some kind of rock concert, but because it's just loud. The people there want to worship God. It's a far cry from the drolling Sunday morning hymns squeaked out by the people around me. And I'm not talking the 'praise and worship' Christian contemporary stuff people like to fuss about. We sang "Take my Life and Let it Be" (a hymn) louder than I have ever heard it sung before.
It was something else last week that drew my attention-- a man and his wife in the front row. At first, there was judgement. One moment he would be on his knees, the next standing up with his hands in the air. His wife would be the same. I had a list of reasons why they shouldn't be doing that. Then, an interesting thought popped in my head:
Worship is like a grilled cheese sandwich.
A few nights ago, we had grilled cheese and my sandwich, to my dismay, was cut straight up and down. It was fairly upsetting to me, actually. I was rather miffed. When the second sandwich was made, it was cut diagonally, and I was happy.
Now, did the sandwich taste any different? No! Did it stop being grilled cheese because it was slice the "wrong" way? No. Why did it matter? Because it wasn't what I was used to. Grilled cheese sandwiches- any sandwich for that matter- in my book, should be sliced diagonally. That's the way I do it.
Here is a man and his wife, worshipping God. As am I. I am not lifting my hands. I am not moving. Does that mean I am not worshipping? No. They are lifting their hands and kneeling. Does that mean they are not worshipping? No. Would I do that? Probably never. Just like I will never cut my grilled cheese straight up and down. It's not how I was raised. It isn't how I worship.
But it can still be worship. One isn't better than the other, one isn't worse than the other. Just because I'm standing still doesn't mean I am a better worshipper, and their hands and kneeling doesn't make them a better worshipper. It all boils down to our hearts. No one can judge the outward appearance, because we are all used to something.
We all have a norm, and every now and then, someone will come along that challenges that norm. They aren't intending to destroy that norm or tell us we are wrong. They are simply letting us know that it is really ok if the grilled cheese is cut a different way. We can all still get along.