A "BCV" Quiz on What Constitutes Worship

A quick quiz. (For those not acquainted with the scripture-focused culture of my religious heritage – Churches of Christ – “BCV” refers to “book, chapter and verse.”)

1.) Name the verse(s) where Christians are commanded to meet on Sunday, every Sunday. Hebrews 10:25 Ephesians 4:11-12

2.) Name the verse(s) in which followers of Christ in gathered worship are required to sing songs. Acts 16:25 Hebrews 2:12 Ephesians 5:19 Colossians 3:16 1 Corinthians 14:15 James 5:13

3.) Name the verse(s) containing the command for believers to give as they are prospered each week so that a church building and staff may be supported. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 2 Corinthians 9:7 Romans 12:8

4.) Name the verse(s) outlining the requirement for Christians to pray in their assemblies. Mattthew 6:9-13 1 Thessalonians 5:17 1 Timothy 2:1

5.) Name the verse(s) commanding the family of Christ to read scripture every time they congregate to worship.

6.) Name the verse(s) dictating that one (or two or three) speakers must expound upon the Word, interpreting it for the rest, each time the faithful assemble. Acts 20:7 Ephesians 4:11-12 1 Corinthians 14:26-29

7.) Name the verse(s) directing Christians to share in the Lord’s Supper each and every week, preferably on Sunday and in the morning. Acts 20:7

What? You say you read the hidden links after each question and these are not all commands? Perhaps none of them are? Many are implied, some are suggested, a few must be inferred?

But are they not taught week in and week out as the law of Christ in our fellowship?

If they are not the law of Christ, then what is the law of Christ; the law of the Spirit of life?

Might it include Mark 12:28-31? Matthew 5-7? Luke 12:33? John 15:17? Galatians 6:2? James 1:26-27? Matthew 28:18-20?

Why do we spend so much time and ink and pixels and hot air on teaching implications, interpretations, suggestions, examples and inferences – necessary or not! – as law rather than what we can be absolutely certain IS the law of Christ, stated in imperative language and centered on the heart of God in this world? As if a few specific acts of worship are somehow all we “have” to do, and if we do them on one or two days a week, we’re okay?

That’s the position you’ll find here and here and here and here and implicitly here and Lord-knows-how-many-other-places.

Pardon me for a moment, but I am a grumpy old man, and I feel this is worth grumping about.

The current issues dividing the emergent conversation and the law-bound, institutional church are largely missing the whole point of incarnational living as Christ in this world; of living a life of worship. These disagreements center almost exclusively on forms of gathered worship; rather than worship by sacrificial living (Romans 12:1-2). They’re mostly about “doing church” rather than “being Christ.” As a general rule, each side is convinced that their way of doing church is the one and only way that will lead them to being saved in the next world without having to become Christ in this one.

Jesus gathered in worship in lots of ways and varieties of numbers and settings with those who followed Him. At the temple. At feasts. On a mountainside. On a plain. In homes. In an upper room. Dining. Fasting. Reading scripture. Paying the temple tax. Singing. Praying. Teaching. Healing. Helping. Forgiving. Encouraging. And many, many other ways. Some of those ways were probably preferred over others by people in His entourage. There is no indication that God rejected or was displeased with any of the ways Jesus or his followers worshiped in the gospels.

They were all sacrificial living; all “serving” (latrueo); all “bowing down toward” (proskuneo); all worship. They glorified God.

The occasions when God became displeased with gathered worship were the ones dealt with in Acts and the epistles when self became more important than His Son – lying to the Spirit about generosity, opinions about feasts and meats, envy over teachers and spiritual gifts, false teachings about circumcision and law and superior “knowledge” required as some sort of salvational supplements to the blood of Christ.

So, I ask again: Why do we spend so much time and ink and pixels and hot air on teaching “how to do church” rather than “how to be Christ”?

And I will tell you the answer as I perceive it:

Because preaching and feeling good about having correctly performed a few required rituals in an hour on Sunday morning is so dadgum much easier than making a 168-hour-a-week lifestyle of self-sacrifice in any and every way that can glorify God – a lifestyle that just might lead you to public ostracism, the end of a career, financial ruin, imprisonment, unjust trial, torture and everything else associated with taking up one’s cross and following Christ.

That’s my answer.

Because it’s exactly why I am failing to be Christ in this world.

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17 thoughts on “A "BCV" Quiz on What Constitutes Worship

  1. This is one thing I applaud the Emerging Church movement (if you can call it a movement) for is the recognition of being over and above doing. We get people all ramped up to do and do and do with no real effort at transformation of the being. That is problematic. They are also moving against church as an institution and rightfully so. Since when does an organic body become an institution in and of itself. We were not called to go and build buildings. We were called to make disciples.

  2. Dadgum, Keith has this been your thinking for a while, or is someone starting to get through. Keith do you know who named the followers of Christ Christians? comment on my blog. I have a post ready to post that explains some of what you addressed here, in a way.

  3. DADGUM nail on the head if I EVER heard it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Preach on, my brother!!!!!!!!How would that be received at PV?I love you for many reasons, but one main reason is because you speak the truth in love!DU

  4. It’d be received with some penitence … and some dissent.And some indifference, I’d wager.I couldn’t begin to guess the percentages, David.

  5. Isn’t truth sometimes shocking? How about this one? Show me chapter and verse where “Obey the gospel” refers to baptism, anywhere in the Bible.The answer to the riddle is this. The flesh (natural man) cries out for rules to keep, duties to check off so he can know some sense of accomplishment. “I did, therefore I am..”Christianity is “He did, therefore I am”.Happy Thanksgiving everyone, be safe.Royce

  6. Keith I can’t name verses which contain commandments to do the things you state. But there are plenty of verses which say we are not to set idly by and expect Jesus to do all the work. here is but one of many.Lk:6:46: And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?47: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

  7. Don’t get me wrong, folks: there are LOTS of things that Jesus asks us to do in following Him. (That’s part of the point I was trying to make.) I believe baptism is one of them, but I think of it more as a starting point of a disciple’s life, rather than the culmination of all obedience.It’s also an extraordinary < HREF="http://keithbrenton.blogspot.com/2005/04/gift-of-baptism.html" REL="nofollow">gift<> that God wants us to have, as well as the way He has chosen to begin working His salvation through us.“Obey the gospel,” as nearly as I can tell, only occurs as a phrase once in all of scripture (< HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=60&chapter=1&verse=8&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">2 Thess. 1:8<>). So it’s not a big surprise that it isn’t close to a reference to baptism in an epistle that isn’t dealing with baptism as an issue; the issue is sloth and a mistaken impression about the imminence of Christ’s return.But I can make a good case (and many already have) that baptism is part of the way that every believer in Acts responded to the gospel. It is what the Spirit spoke through Peter as God’s desire for the assembly at Pentecost.

  8. Oops. Twice.< HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=67&chapter=4&verse=17&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">1 Peter 4:17<>. Same kind of context, though. Probably very late in the first century. Faith wavering because no return seemed forthcoming.

  9. Not once in the Bible is obeying the gospel connected to baptism. Obedience to the gospel is always to first believe it. You are correct that every believer should be baptised, but not only is it not the end, it isn’t the beginning either. Baptism never stands alone, it is always a compliment to repentance and or faith. Jesus said believe and be baptised and Peter said repent and be baptised. Baptism is never more important than faith and repentance but you would never know that from many our our brothers in the coC.My post (http://gracedigest.com/2007/04/02/obey-the-gospel/) at Grace Digest is pretty clear.Thanks bro’ for allowing me to participate.Happy Thanksgiving,Royce

  10. As I reflect on the many reasons I have for being thankful, I am definitely moved to give God thanks and praise for your light and life. May God’s richest blessings continue flow through you to enlighten and enrich the lives of others.Love in the Lord,< HREF="http://spiritualoasis.org/blog/2008/11/26/thanksgiving-thoughts/" REL="nofollow"><>Bill Williams<><>

  11. The Pharisees developed a “check list” mentality. One of the major reasons they came to hate Jesus was his lack of emphasis on their “check list”. Jesus taught us to “Be” before we “do”. Our tribe’s “five step” mentality comes from making the same mistakes the Pharisees made.

  12. Wow, that was a great post, especially your paragraph about the list of approved worship making it easier for me to live my life without the sacrifice for the other 165 hours of the week (because you must be in at “church” Sunday AM, PM and Wednesday). Oops, forgot Sunday school, add another hour

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