What do you think of when someone is referred to as an "idolater"? Today's Worship Quote is from Christian Basics by John Stott.
Instead of worshiping God "in spirit" (recognizing that he is spirit himself and asks for spiritual worship), idolaters become preoccupied with external, visible and tangible objects. Even the worship of the people of Israel had a constant tendency to degenerate into formalism and even blatant hypocrisy. The seventh and eighth century prophets were scathing in their denunciation of Israel's empty religion, and Jesus applied their criticism to the Pharisees of his own day: "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me'" (Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:6). So whatever outward forms we may use in Christian worship (liturgies, processions, drama, ritual, kneeling or raising our arms), we need to ensure that they escape the charge of idolatry by passing the double test of being "in spirit and in truth."
- John Stott, Christian Basics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 94-95.
Note that Isaiah, Jesus, and John Stott are not condemning all outward forms of worship; rather they are warning Israel, the Pharisees, and us that without hearts for God, our worship is empty, and definitely not "in spirit." See also Isaiah 1:10-20.
Have a great week!
To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.