Liturgies and Hymnals
We have been using Liturgies and Hymnals in our worship services, mainly to keep uniformity and to best utilize our allotted time slot for our service. The Order of Service had been formulated by people who have spent months and years together in the presence of God for deriving His directions. The Hymns were written by the people who encountered Jesus during their period of struggle, like loss of their beloved one, betrayal by their trusted ones, prolonged sickness, poverty and persecution.
Believers get into the habit of reciting liturgies and singing Hymns without understanding what they really convey. A person who comes in the middle of a Church service, will conveniently join in reciting the exact line the congregation is singing.
If some of the lines, seem relevant to the current challenges we are facing, we become sensitive for a little while but then as the song goes on, we become normal. Ironically, when we sing ‘All to Jesus I Surrender’, we are not even willingly to share our songbook with one another. If we are unable to even share, how will we surrender.
Believers are in no way in line with the factual backgrounds of the writer’s experience. Should one person’s personal encounter with God, stop others from experiencing it personally?
Gradually, these practices turn to be a mere ritual tradition and people think that those set of prayers and hymns have power in them. Thus, instead of worshiping our true and living Lord in truth and spirit, we unknowingly become a victim of the evil one and change the liturgy into idealism.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Romans 1:21
In Sung Eucharist, the whole order of service is sung in tune and people are enchanted by the solemn music but miss out the meaning of what they sing. During the praise and worship session, people love to sing songs but never try to understand what they are singing.
If we see the views on the YouTube channel for a Christian worship song, the count will be higher for the songs that show the video of the performance as compared to the songs posted only with lyrics.
Richness in Hymns and Liturgies
No doubt that these liturgies contain meaningful statements while the hymns are someone’s inspiration and experience. The question here is not about the spiritual richness of the liturgies and hymns but how it is being sung by the believers.
Jesus quite often rebuked people who did not understand the essence of the message but were distorted by other glamorous things. When people did not understand what John the Baptist was telling them, Jesus curtly rebuked them.
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’Matthew 11:7-10
Not only with Liturgies and Hymnals, the same trend is prevailing among many believers when it comes to Bible reading. Most believers are not interested in reading the Bible on their own. For them the Living words are mere hearsay words.
These hearsay verses may not be relevant with everyone’s situation but only in the context in which the preacher experienced them and thereby, those verses have often been misquoted out of context.
I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something foreign.Hosea 8:12
If a literate believer is unwilling to go through the verses himself, then how would an illiterate believer get to know the essence of the message, that God wants to convey to them through a literate believer.
Sunday School Concepts
There is another sect of people who stick to their Sunday School version of the verses and stories till their death. They talk much about the dos and don’ts but fail to put them to practice. There is a vast difference between how a Sunday School child and a grown up adult read the story of David and Goliath. While a Sunday School child rejoices over the defeat of Goliath, an adult may gain valor, strength, courage, and passion.
But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.Isaiah 28:13
We should feel the relevance of the incidents cited in the Bible in our personal life. As adults, we should correlate those Bible stories with the sequence of events and its context to get a clear picture of it. The sooner we do so, the sooner we will understand the real purpose of our living on this earth.
Need of the Hour
The world is in need of the ‘Good News’ as the global situation worsens day by day. The redemption story inculcates hope in the minds of the people who have lost their hope. To spread the Good News, we should have a clear and thorough knowledge of the Bible.
The Bible, in a nutshell, tells us the love of God. To depict it, various characters throughout history have been recorded in the Bible with transparency. The temptations and struggles of the people of God, the sins that they had committed and their repentance are recorded in the Bible to teach us the right path. By ignoring those facts, we often portray them as our heroes and do not want to offend our heroes by focusing on their mistakes.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.Romans 15:4
Most people believe that ‘Christianity’ is a comparatively new religion as they trace its origin to the birth of Christ two thousand years ago but the existence of Yahweh has been since the beginning and His Redemption Plan even before the creation of mankind.
Moreover, Jesus came to this world in order to save the whole mankind and not to establish any religion. People do like Jesus and His teachings but they hate Christians. We should be equipped with God’s love at all times rather than being filled with hypocritical righteousness.
While reciting the liturgies, we should understand the concept first and only when we agree with that concept, should we be reciting it, because we are confessing it before our Living God. The commitment of the person who formulated the liturgy may be higher than our commitment. We should not blindly read out whatever is there in front of us but should be careful in confessing the things relevant to our level of commitment to God.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.Ecclesiastes 5:2
In the same way, while singing the hymn ‘It is well with my soul‘, having the same mind set of Horatio Spafford, who had lost his four daughters in a shipwreck is impossible. Yet the purpose of singing this heart touching song is telling God that It’s well with us in all the situations of our own lives be it in success or failure. If we start practicing this by praising God, then our words and hearts will be aligned when we confess or sing before our Living God.
Worship God in Spirit and in Truth
Jesus Himself is asking us to worship God in the Spirit and in truth.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.John 4:24
If we worship only in truth and in the Spirit, then the meaning of the Living Word will become totally different to us. While we worship with a human mind, we will seek God’s protection to guard us from our enemies. But when we worship in the Spirit, we humble ourselves before our enemies to fulfill Jesus’ teachings in our lives.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.Matthew 5:44-45
Let not the devil change our worship into idealism, rather we must ask God to worship Him in truth and His Spirit.