Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Public Worship > Private Worship? Two Concerns

Recently, a friend of mine published the following quote on Facebook:

Public worship is to be preferred before private. So it is by the Lord, so it should be by His people.

This was followed by his own expansion of the quote:

Public worship is to be preferred before the spiritual disciplines. So it is by the Lord, so it should be by His people.

While I appreciate what my friend was trying to do in posting these quotes (i.e., stir up the people of God to consider the importance of public worship), I do have two concerns about these quotes:

1. These quotes set public worship against private worship (and the spiritual disciplines). I understand that these quotes are likely given in response to people who would minimize the importance of public worship, while ostensibly asserting that private worship is sufficient. But the remedy for a mindset that denigrates public worship must confront the attitude that would set public and private worship at odds. I have personally spoken to people who have said that they don't need to go to church because they can worship God just as well at home. But invariably, when further probing questions are asked, it comes to light that those who regularly neglect public worship don't have much in the way of private worship going on in their lives either. On the other hand, those who neglect private worship are invariably hamstrung in their service to the church. Sure, they may show up at church meetings, they may have their co-members fooled into thinking that they're doing fine (if their particular congregation fosters a low-accountability environment), but if any spiritual examination comes into play then it quickly becomes evident that the "one another" commands of the New Testament (and the exercise of the spiritual gifts within the church, which are dependent upon the individual members of the church obeying the commands concerning life in the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16, 25; Eph 5:18; 1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30) are not obeyed by those who regularly neglect private worship. Public worship and private worship are mutually interdependent. This is illustrated in the words of Christ to the churches in Revelation 2-3, as Jesus speaks to the churches as a whole, then concludes each letter with a word to the individual: "Let he who has an ear [a singular phrase] hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

2. Christ promises rewards for private worship. In Matthew 6, those who properly exercise private "acts of righteousness"- unknown to others, but only to God- are promised rewards from the Father. To my knowledge (and I am certainly open to correction on this, if someone else can provide scriptural examples), Christ makes no such promises of rewards in regard to public worship.

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