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Monday, May 7, 2012

Who Decides What Is Good?

The truths in God’s Word are inexhaustible. I was reminded greatly of this in a Bible Study led by Dr. Bob Cole at our church recently. I have been reading the Bible through each year for nearly 40 years and have heard countless sermons on Genesis, Adam and Eve, etc., but I had never heard some of the truths I heard just two weeks ago. Dr. Cole, who did his doctoral in Hebrew, shared how the writer of Genesis would add the commentary “and God saw that it was good” after God would speak into existence different aspects of creation. God also defined that “it was not good” that man should be alone, and so a helpmate was formed from him. From the very beginning, God was the one who determined what was good and what was not.

When the serpent tempted Eve, the temptation dealt in questioning God and God’s Word. The back side of the temptation was getting Eve and eventually Adam, to reject God’s design and set their own standard for what was “good.” Scripture states that “when Eve saw that the fruit was good, she took some of it and ate.” Up until that time God alone had set the standards of determining what was good. The rebellion in the garden was not just about going against the direct command of God, but establishing one’s own standard for what was good. The application is simple, anytime we come to the place where we bypass God and set up our own standards for what is good for us, we have fallen into the same temptation as the first two in the garden of Eden. Choosing to make our own decisions about what is good is tempting because it appeals to our pride. We want, in our fallen selves, to make our own decisions. It is somehow degrading to have to take someone else's (even God's) advice. Dr. Cole shared much more, but I will narrow the discussion on the above, and honestly, I am still processing as the Spirit of God is working the applications in my own life. The implications for worship leadership are our focus at the moment. God has declared what pleases Him, what He has declared as good, He has declared what is not good. Correct worship style and musical taste are not specifically clarified in Scripture; the object and focus of worship are. The focus of worship is God and God alone. Obedience is better than sacrifice and the attitudes with which we approach God are important. These are only basic, foundational concepts.

When we begin to define what God accepts as "good" by our own standards and not God's, then we are falling to the same temptation as Adam and Eve. Remember God's admonition to Samuel when looking to anoint a new king: "man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." Our natural tendency is to assume God approves of what we have defined as good, worshipful, and meaningful, which many times is based on our feelings or emotional response. Worship is our obedience response to the revealed nature and character of God, and without that obedient response our worship is incomplete. If we ignore obedient response, we are redefining what Scripture teaches about worship and succumb to the same temptation as Eden's first pair.

The question is, "Who decides what is good in worship for you?" Keeping these thoughts in mind can make a world of difference as we plan and as we function as "lead worshipers."

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