Today’s guest post comes from Ryan Pemberton. Ryan works in the Mobile Education department at Faithlife; he’s also a published writer on the topics of C. S. Lewis and calling.
Christian worship is big business. From Christian radio stations to massive international tours to the entire Christian recording industry, worship is no longer confined within church walls; it has global reach. But what does Scripture teach us about proper Christian worship? And how might this teaching speak to contemporary Christian worship?
In this sample clip from Logos Mobile Ed course NT221 The Wisdom of John, renowned New Testament scholar Dr. Ben Witherington III explains the single most important feature of proper Christian worship.
It’s about God from start to finish
“One of the problems I come across in the church all too often,” Dr. Witherington notes in his teaching on Revelation 4 and 5, “is that Christian persons are not taught how to properly worship God.” Dr. Witherington notes two essential lessons for Christians wanting a biblical understanding of worship. First, it is to be about God from start to finish. Second, it is not intended for entertainment. “The function of [Christian worship] music is so that the whole person . . . is caught up in love and wonder and praise of God.”
Dr. Witherington shares an exchange from his own church between a nearly blind and deaf older woman and a younger woman who wondered what this older congregant was getting from the worship services—and why she still bothered to come. “Young lady, I am not here primarily for what I can get out of this, but for giving worship to God,” the older woman explained. “I have the bulletin sent to me during the week, I get out my magnifying glass and my large-print Bible, I read the Scriptures that will be used during the worship service and the hymns that will be sung. I think and meditate on these things, and though it’s true, now I get less out of the worship than I used to, that’s not the primary function of worship for me. I come to give honor and praise and glory to God. That’s what worship is about.”
Scripture teaches that the sole focus of Christian worship is God. How does this teaching square with contemporary worship? What does the modern church have to learn from the worship depicted in Revelation 4 and 5? These questions aren’t easily answered, but they’re certainly important to consider for anyone involved in leading worship, either at the local church level or beyond.
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