Religion in America continues to trend into the marketing and entertainment arena at breakneck speed. The conventional wisdom is that, in order to compete with the entertainment mentality of our current culture, we must morph our spiritual service into a mutated secular spectacle to cater to the crowd; it is, after all, all about the crowd. Praising God has become a three-ring circus and substance has been superseded with sensuousness. How the worshiper feels has trumped what God reveals. So, “worship” has taken on a whole new face; and such an ugly one at that.
Timothy was given the divine formula for church growth and acceptable service when Paul told him: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). Here’s how we can know that our worship and service is pleasing to God: watch out for our doctrine!
It is so unpopular in the anti-authority atmosphere of modern churches to speak of doctrine and insist that there are commands to be obeyed. Somehow, this message stifles freedom and suppresses expression, a throw-back to the ‘60s’ “if-it-feels-good-do-it” flaw. However, innovating in worship to God has been condemned since dirt, literally (ref. Cain, Genesis 4:4-7). Blunt statements of God’s disapproval shocked the children of Israel (Leviticus 10:1-2) and Jesus blasted the religious elite by condemning a self-serving worship that was defined by the phrase: “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Since it is God that we worship, it is God that we should please in our worship (John 4:24). If our attitude is not right, and/or if our activities are not right, the worship and service we offer to God will not be accepted.
Our soul’s salvation hangs on our acknowledgement of and obedience to God’s will (John 14:15). The focus of acceptable worship is not on the worshiper but upon Him to whom we offer our worship. Therefore, it is God who reveals what He will and will not accept; and it’s not entertainment.