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Discovery Magazine 2/1/2009

Entertaining Ourselves or Worshiping God?

by  Michael Cortez

In Ezekiel 33:31-32, God told Ezekiel: “They come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” In other words, the people were entertained by Ezekiel’s preaching. They listened, and even acted like God’s children, but in their hearts, they just wanted to be entertained.

This attitude has plagued religion for centuries, but has now been taken a step further. Instead of being entertained by worship, people have tried to make worship entertainment. For example, they have introduced mechanical instruments, dramas, and hand-clapping into the worship service. Sadly, these additions can be found even in the church of our Lord. It seems as though some people have forgotten what worship is all about. And that leads us to an important question: how does God feel about all of these things?

From the beginning, God wanted man to worship Him according to the commandments He gave. When Cain and Abel offered their worship to God, Abel’s was acceptable, but Cain’s was not (Genesis 4:1-5). Why? Abel obeyed what God said to do in worship, but Cain did not. Later, under the Law of Moses, two priests tried to change things in their approach to God, and God sent fire to consume them (Leviticus 10:1-2). The lesson is obvious: do not change God’s pattern for worship. Therefore, when the New Testament tells us what God considers acceptable worship (singing, giving, preaching, praying, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper), we should make no changes. Worship was never intended to be “entertaining,” and people should be ashamed when they try to make it so. Worship is a blessing that is only given to a Christian, and it should be done “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Today, too many people are like the people in Ezekiel’s day who were going “after their gain,” forgetting that worship is not for them, but for God.

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