KEEPING GOD’S TESTIMONIES
by Wayne S. Walker
“Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!” (Psalm 119:2). The Hebrew parallelism of this verse means that those who seek the Lord with the whole heart are those who keep His testimonies. Therefore in order for our worship and service to be acceptable to God, we must follow His commandments, not our own preferences, human wisdom, or other subjective standards. Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise devout folks think that if they just act in a whole-hearted way while doing whatever they believe is good, then the Lord will be pleased.
It is not my aim to spend all of my time in a negative way, picking at other people’s religious practices. However, occasionally I read or hear something that evokes a comment. A recent local newspaper notice about the services of an area church said, “Worship will be led by XXX and XXX, with XXX on keyboards, XXX on the bass, XXX on the drums, XXX on lead guitar, XXX on rhythm guitar, and background vocals by XXX.” Is this a worship service or a rock concert? I can almost feel the floor vibrating as I write that. Whatever happened just to “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19)?
In years gone by, a majority of people even in denominational churches understood that the primary purpose of worship was to praise and honor God, not to be entertained by whatever style of popular music happened to be in vogue at the time with a religious theme thrown in for good measure. But today churches try to draw crowds by vying to see who has the loudest band, the largest vocal group, or the most exciting musical display. Jesus talked about those whose worship would be in vain because they teach as doctrines the commandments of men rather than following God’s will (Matthew 15:8-9).
Unfortunately, many people, not satisfied with the simple worship of God as outlined in His revealed word, will be drawn by the carnal appeal of the flashy music, just as there were those in Jesus’s day who wanted the loaves and fishes rather than the “food which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:26-27). However, faithful churches of Christ, though maybe fewer in number, will be worshipping God in spirit and truth according to the New Testament pattern (John 4:24). “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).