So many ways not to worship God....

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(David) It's easy not to worship God. I can read a blog rather than the Bible. I can go to a soccer meet rather than a worship service. But tragic as such gross rejection of worship is, there is an easier and more insidious way for the Christian to refuse to worship God.

It's a far deeper and more soul-searing rejection of worship to read the Bible and only find within it what we want to find, to attend and invest ourselves in corporate worship only when that worship is precisely aligned with our personal likes and dislikes.

In the Reformed world this kind of refusal to worship is often cloaked by a deep-voiced intonation of the "requirements of the Regulative Principle of Worship." 

Nothing in the Reformed world today more resembles the Pharisee's specious arguments about the Law and more demonstrates the legalistic hypocrisy of that sect than our battles over what constitute proper "elements" and "circumstances" of worship.

We fight over hymns vs. psalms vs. silence and argue for the exclusion of instruments from worship based on distinctions between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church. You thought these kinds of hard-and-fast dichotomies between OT and NT forms and principles were only found in dispensationalism? Think again. Dance, prescribed as it is in Scripture, is not a proper New Testament, churchly form of worship, because it was part of "national" worship. Instruments may have been proper in temple worship, but, "[I]t is ill advised to use the temple as the pattern for Christian

worship, for the temple was instituted under Moses as part of the

typological system that was temporary by divine intention." (Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession, p. 244).

So we can't "praise Him with timbrel and dancing" (Psalm 150:4) because it's idolatrous.

We can't worship in tongues, with interpretation, because it's, what?

Let's not go there....

Trust me, neither dance nor tongues have been part of our worship at CTW. But we don't freight our practice in these areas with the weight of divine imperative, based upon some penumbra of an emanation from Scripture.

Which means, of course, that it is at least conceivable that dance could break out in our worship some day. In fact, I harbor a quiet hope that dance will one day break out in our worship. (CTW brothers and sisters, trust me here please--I'm not talking about teenage girls waltzing with ribbons...)

What's given up in the course of this arguing over angels and pinheads? Worship, true worship of God all too often. But even more centrally and objectively, lost in this shuffle is Scripture's clear, abiding, bright line on illicit worship, the Second Commandment's prohibition of graven images.

So we live in a Reformed world where anything goes because nothing's actually allowed. And when everything is potentially forbidden, nothing's actually out-of-bounds.

When instruments become idols, then elephants become pillows, and visions of sugar plums dance in our heads.

Brothers and sisters, constrain the eyes by rejecting images other than those of the reality God has surrounded us with, constrain the mind by disciplining it to heed the Word of God, restrain the heart through confession of sin, constrain the body by turning away from the lusts of the flesh, and then let the body, mind and heart fly free toward God in worship.

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And, finally, let's agree that worship such as that represented in this bulletin from a Reformed church is actually a violation of the Law of God, combining icons and videos (and even pledges to icons) in a mishmash of violations of the second commandment far more objectively idolatrous than any combination of instruments, dance, rap or even speaking in tongues we might conjure up to amount to a violation of the Second Commandment. Note the sermon title....

Bulletin--redacted