I went to church service recently in which a powerful and emotional solo called “I Feel Like Moving On” was sung. The more I listened, however, the more disturbed I became by the emphasis on feeling. In my heart I made a decision. By His grace I am going to move on in my service to God regardless of how I feel. The worship of God by His people is such a sacred and intimate experience that we should not be surprised how often the enemy tries to pervert it.
Missionaries are constantly under attack for trying to “subvert” the culture and traditions of indigenous peoples. Unfortunately there are times compromises are made to avoid conflict, and the result is a worship that is a mixture of Christianity and paganism. Not surprisingly, this satisfies no one. How could it be otherwise? If it is true that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord (Jas. 1:6-8), how stable and blessed can an institution be that is double-minded? Some churches that I’ve visited in Sub Saharan African countries offer the spectacle of religion that blends Christian elements with paganism. The amalgamation that has resulted has almost always turned out to be an enemy of Christianity, with persecution of believers not too far behind. There is nothing in the church that we should be more careful about than our worship. It must be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). lest we come under the same judgment.
The worst damage is the damage we inflict on ourselves by offering people a cheap grace, or easy believism. We give them membership and baptism and important roles in the church without requiring repentance and confession and true discipleship. We do not call on people to count the cost for following Christ because we have removed the cost. Apart from commitment and obedience to the Lord, acts of worship are not just empty and meaningless: they are an offense to God.