For years I have seen and heard about the division in churches over “correct” and “incorrect” forms of worship. I have seen it all from “you shouldn’t smile in church because you should fear the Lord” to the Ringling Brothers Circus service. Each group seems to think the other has missed the mark and are often very uncomfortable worshipping together.
In the midst of one church crisis concerning this issue, I prayed, “Father, how should we worship You?” He answered using my own children to make the point.
The kids had been away at Grandma’s house for a few days, and I missed them terribly. On my way home from work, all I could think about was seeing them. As soon as the front door slammed behind me I heard the sound I had longed for. The sound of small feet on the wood floor—my children were coming to greet me.
The first to arrive was Alex—my soon-to-be four year old. He was running and jumping and yelling, “Daddy’s home, daddy’s home!” He ran to me with arms open and hugged my legs as hard as he could. I bent down and told him how much I loved him and had missed him. He gave me a kiss and was off to other adventures.
Following closely was Anthony, my seventeen-month old. He filled the house with a steady “Dada, dada, dada, dada.” As he neared, he looked up at me and raised his hands as high as they would go as a sign for me to pick him up. When I did he took my face in his hands and looked deeply into my eyes for a moment, then patted my face and kissed me like only a toddler can. The squirming that followed was his signal that our special moment was over, and in a flash he was gone.
Austin, my five-year-old, was not to be found in this parade, so I conducted an immediate search of the house. Alone in his room he sat, tears rolling down his cheeks. He had done something he knew was wrong and was fearing the worst upon my arrival. As he talked about what he had done, he began to cry uncontrollably, saying, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry.” I felt as if I couldn’t pick him up fast enough. I hugged and kissed him repeatedly and told him that I forgave him and would always love him no matter what. In no time we were playing and laughing as usual.
Each child’s response to my presence was correct considering their circumstance. It was honest and from the heart.
How should we worship in church? The answer will most likely change from week to week but can always be found by assessing the condition of our hearts.
Contributed by: Bill Hall