Thursday, March 17, 2005

Nick Versus Tradition

In an earlier post I promised you I would talk about why traditions and customs can be idolatrous.

Before I do that though, I think its only fair that I make one thing absolutely clear... some of the ancient hymns (e.g. Be Thou My Vision) I really love, and it's not the songs themselves I am knocking.

Idolatry isn't just people getting jiggy and dancing nekkid round totem poles... OK? Let's try and keep that image out of our minds LOL... depending on who's doing it, it's quite grim!

No, idolatry is when we let something, anything take centre stage in our lives instead of God. Yes, ironically this can actually include religious worship. Remember, the Israelites built the golden calf as an act of worship (although yes, admittedly, they were ALSO getting jiggy and dancing round it nekkid ).
One of my issues is that the older generations, are so afraid of letting go of some of these religions, they are stifling the growth of church. What are they afraid of? "If we let them sing Matt Redman songs... we'll never hear "proper" hymns again" Is that what they think? Firstly, I would say I think Mr Redman is one of the finest worship songwriters we've had in a long time... and in fact in a bit, I'll quote him. Secondly I say this. When I got a chance to praise God with my kind of music, it did not make me despise traditional hymns, it made me appreciate some of them even more... because I was somewhat closer to the source and object of that praise. What is truly important in worship, is not how old a song is, or how it's played or sung... but how sincere it is coming from your heart... that's it.
It's the same with liturgy (most of which was created primarily to combat heresy), if you recite words over and over again parrot fashion, there's a temptation inside... to switch onto autopilot and not really mean them. I sit in church sometimes, and hear the congregation utter the creed or the Lord's Prayer... and the congregation sound just like the Borg from Star Trek. There is a time and place for liturgy, but it is not beneficial to have a worshipful service, where the emphasis is on ink on a page and not Holy Spirit influenced hearts.

So before handing over to Matt Redman I'll leave you with a couple of scriptures:
Psalm 4:5 "Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD."
Psalm 51:16,17 "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
Jeremiah 7:22,23 "For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you."
Mark 12:28-34 "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
And finally, the words to Matt Redman's Song "The Heart of Worship"
When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart
I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the things I've made it
When it's all about You All about You, Jesus
King of endless worth, no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor, all I have is Yours
Every single breath
I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the things I've made it
When it's all about You All about You, Jesus

My only hope is that something written blesses someone
N

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