Worship vs. Evangelism?
I was reading John Dekker's first post on evangelizing children, and remembered a quote from John Piper that I rather like. It's this: "Evangelism exists because worship doesn't." This is an eschatalogical concept if ever there was one. Will there be evangelism forever? Clearly not. On the Judgment Day, whatever you believe about it, God will separate the sheep from the goats. There will be no going back, and no more second chances. (That's why I'm uncomfortable, actually, with the idea that God's grace is infinite. God does not wait forever, though He tarries long.) Therefore there can be no reason to evangelize after that Day. And what will there be after that Day? Worship.
Let us not forget, also, that man's chief end (not his head!) is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That is not evangelism, but worship. It is worship with your whole being.
So am I saying we shouldn't evangelize? Certainly not. But realize that ultimately, it is not the highest activity man does. Douglas Wilson once said that homo sapiens doesn't describe man nearly so well as homo adorans - man who worships. Worshipping the one true God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is the highest activity that man does.
So worship with all of your being. In today's church, I feel that this doesn't happen. There appear to be two extremes. Either you believe that Christians should worship with their mind, all of their mind, and nothing but their mind; or the equivalent with the heart.
But the Bible doesn't talk that way. The Bible is much more holistic. It says "Behold, the LORD your God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind." I distinctly get the impression that, along with these four aspects of human existence, we are to love the LORD our God with "anything else about you not mentioned in this list."
Which extreme has the sway right now? Mindless exuberance, or tired orthodusty? I'm not sure I really care.
For those of you who know me, I'm going to have to apologize for using Douglas Wilson again. But Wilson has got the absolute perfect word for worship: it's the Latin word "solempne." Here he is, from his book Mother Kirk:
Like our word solemn, solempne represents the opposite of casual, but unlike solemn, it carries no connotation of austerity, moroseness, or gloom. We moderns have come to associate spontaneity with innocence and virtue, fresh and unsullied. Our adoption of unbiblical criteria means that we frequently overlook those things which the Bible associates with a healthy church, dismissing them as dead simply because they have more formality in the liturgy than we like.
Of course a worship service may be formal and also lifeless. This is disobedience. "Wherefore the Lord said, 'Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men" (Is. 29:13). In the opposite corner, a worship service may be informal and lively. We have no Scripture for this one, other than the implication that the absence of [order] did not unchurch the group of saints at Corinth. But we must remember that tolerated disobedience over time always leads to death.
A worship service may be informal and spiritually chaotic, meaning that lifelessness is just around the corner. "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse" (1 Cor. 11:17). If the disorder evident in their worship went unaddressed, the end result of their activity would be final, lasting spiritual inactivity. The activity in a church can simply be a form of pandemonium.
But obedience requires that a worship service be both formal and lively. To say it again, "Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" (Col. 2:5).
We should therefore see that there are two types of order. When a formal church is unhealthy, it is because their arrangement is the order of china figurines on a shelf. When a formal church is obedient and healthy it is because their arrangement is that of well-disciplined troops preparing themselves for battle. An opposing general would not look at their cavalry, wheeling as though one man, and dismiss them as a bunch of legalists.
And as the Scriptures declare, when the choir in militant joy goes out as the advance guard of the army [Adrian: there is a verse that says in at least one Israelite battle, the musicians were to form the front line], then God's name is glorified, and His enemies are scattered. The worship is formal and exuberant.
I would add that this word solempne is very like a soldier standing at attention, very quiet, but bursting with joy because he serves his general, whom he loves and will follow to the death. Great generals like Stonewall Jackson can command this kind of loyalty from their men. And can our great King not command this from us? It is disobedience not to render this to Him.
So worship with your whole being with all your actions every day. Sundays, perhaps, you get to worship with more of the army present, and that is encouraging. But we are to worship all the time.
God bless you.