Last night, a friend of mine who is in a position of leadership in a budding new work told me of his recently receiving a call from a person who was looking to help this friend of mine in his ministry on one condition: the church must sing praise choruses. My mind wandered to this remark I heard Tozer make as I was listening to him preach yesterday. The sermon was called "Consider your Ways," the fourth in the series "Awake," and I commend it to you. Tozer said,
"Some of you young people, I'm just a little bit worried. . . . I wonder how much is of God and how much is merely social. . . . I wonder if the social were suddenly removed how much of the spiritual would be left. I wonder about that. It seems we always have to be doing something to be happy. . . . We have all these things to hold our people. I wonder if we took them suddenly away how many Christians we'd have of the whole bunch."
These are good questions. How much of what we do becomes an idol for us? How many of our programs, conceived for the benefit of the people of God, soon become the end instead of the Lord himself? Both good things, like preaching, and bad things, like P&W, and even "extra things," like programs, can become the chief object of desire, and thus circumvent the worship of God.
Man has an incredible propensity towards idolatry. The Apostle John's final words in his first epistle offer a dire warning: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." When the children of Israel kept wandering off to their little Baals, I suspect that they blessed it with the same piety that we ourselves do when we pass over our loving our children or American lifestyles more than God. This is one of reasons why I think that our worship services and churchly life should be as simple as possible. Can we take the programs and nuances away freely, without our pride or our love of our leadership position within that program or even our religion itself crumbling? Are we able to rest solely on the simple elements of worship God has given to us for worship like preaching, praying, singing, the ordinances, and Scripture reading, without the building, the organ, the drum set, the worship choruses, the trendiness, the children's ministry, the youth or singles activities, AWANA, VBS, and everything else? Are we guilty of idolatry when we cannot? I am not arguing that these things are in themselves wrong, but that we should introduce our aids to ministry "with our eyes wide open." Mankind is bent towards idolatry. Sometimes the church can unwittingly encourage it by focusing on or promoting things other than God himself. Most importantly, we should inspect and guard our own hearts from wandering towards other loves.
Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nothing on earth I desire besides you.