With this post our discussionÂ takes a novel turn. I’ll be introducing a few fictional charactersÂ to walkÂ with us during this journey. These characters may closely resemble people you have known. They represent an amalgamation of attitudes and actions I’ve encountered through the years. Any resemblance with a real-life person you may know is purely coincidental. One thing is absolutely certain: The names have been changed for the proctection of the guilty.Â
Russell looked up from his notes on the lectern as several gregarious students entered. They began making their way past empty seats towards the front of the classroom. One of the students spouted an inquiry, â€œWhat are we studying about today, brother?â€
â€œGood morning, Darrin.â€ Russell responded. â€œIâ€™m glad to see you. How are you this morning?â€
â€œIâ€™m great! What are we going to study?â€ Darrin asked again, his words racing from his lips with evident enthusiasm.
Russell removed his glasses and began cleaning them with his necktie. â€œWe are going to spend 40 minutes exploring a topic that has occupied the best thoughts of many people in every generation that has gone before us. This subject is both a matter of universal concern and one of the most personal subjects anyone ever contemplates.â€ After checking his glasses to be sure he had gotten rid of the most noticeable smudges, he put them back on.
Darrin was an inquisitive young man, who was beginning his sophomore year at the university. He was making his way in the world; but, more importantly, he was emerging as a true spiritual leader. He was examining everything anew in the fresh light of a faith on fire. Listening to Russell Perkins explain Godâ€™s Word had become one of the highlights of his busy weeks. He was learning and growing like never before in his life.
â€œSo, what is this deeply personal topic we are studying today?â€ Darrin asked again.
â€œWe are studying about our worship to God,â€ was Russellâ€™s reply.
Darrin took his customary seat on the front row and continued, â€œWorship is a broad subject.â€
â€œYes. It is even more comprehensive than we sometimes think.â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œWell, when I say the word â€˜worshipâ€™â€”especially in the setting of a Sunday morning Bible classâ€”you know?â€”where people conclude Iâ€™m talking about the churchâ€™s worshipâ€”most automatically assume the discussion pertains exclusively to the churchâ€™s worship assemblies.â€
â€œDoesnâ€™t it?â€ asked Darrin.
â€œIt does indeed; but not exclusively. In fact, I believe the ScripturesÂ teach that what happens outside the worship gathering has more to do with what occurs during the assembly than most of us have ever even considered.â€
Darrin drew a deep breath and tilted his head to one side. Russell didnâ€™t say so, but he took note of the fact that this behavior, combined with Darrinâ€™s long, golden curls made him look a bit like a cocker spaniel.
â€œOkay. Iâ€™ll bite,â€ he said. â€œHow is it that what happens outside the assembly makes such a big difference when we get together on Sundays?â€
â€œWell, many of us think that â€˜worshipâ€™ is something we go somewhere to do.â€
â€œSometimes this is the case, technically speaking. But, thatâ€™s the key to this whole discussion. Weâ€™ve been getting hung up on technicalities.â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œHere it is in a nutshell: If worship is exclusively thought of as going some place to do some thingâ€”or some thingsâ€”all of our emphasis naturally gets placed on what we do and how we do it.â€
Darrin nodded understandingly, taking note that Russell laid special emphasis on the â€œweâ€™sâ€ in his previous comment.
A puzzled look took shape on Darrinâ€™s face. Again, he had that cocker spaniel look. This time, however, his curls werenâ€™t springing as he angled his head to one side. He sat too still for that.
Presently, he stayed his gaze on Russell and said, â€œBrother, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve believed all my lifeâ€”at the very leastâ€”I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever even considered anything different. Iâ€™ve even heard sermons about it! I can remember Brother Hemeanswell back homeÂ preaching several sermon series about worship as I was growing up. I can still hear him saying, â€˜Weâ€™ve got to get things right if we want our worship to be acceptable.â€™ He would usually quote Colossians 3:17 to support this idea. That was one of the first verses he had us memorize in our Timothy Class. Isnâ€™t that what it means?â€
Russell looked at his young friend in the faith, his generous smile said more than any words he could speak. He also noted that the classroom was nearly full. Most of the students seemed to be tuned into their discussion.
â€œThatâ€™s a great question, Darrin,â€Â was Russell’s reply.Â Then with a sweeping wave of his hand, he said, â€œItâ€™s an excellent place for us to start this morning. This is a passage we often focus on when we study the subject of worship. If everyone will take a seat, weâ€™ll get started.â€
Russell took a moment to finish organizing his notes on the lectern.Â As heÂ rearranged the smudges on his glasses one more time,Â he prayed silently for wisdom. He then looked up and greeted the college class as he had done almost every Sunday for nearly twenty years.
His eyes twinkled in anticipation. He said, â€œThis morning we are going to be studying about worship. Letâ€™s open our Bibles to Paulâ€™s letter to Godâ€™s holy people in Colossae.â€
Then, with a gleam of shear delight emanating from his face, he said, â€œDarrin, would you be so kind as to read Colossians 3:1-17 for us? And, afterward, would you please lead us in prayer as we begin our study?â€
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Well, do you feel like you know these people? Have you wrestled with the ideas that Darrin’s preacher back home, Brother Hemeanswell, implanted in his thought patterns? More importantly, what are your concepts about worship?Â How does Colossians 3:17 factor in to this discussion?
Â© Bill Williams