DO YOU CHOOSE WHERE YOU WORSHIP?
Did you choose where to worship God when you were a child? Did your family chose? Did God chose?
In Deuteronomy 12, Israel is instructed not to worship at the shrines of Canaan where they are going but to “seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes as his habitation to put his name there” (v. 5).
This law in Deuteronomy 12:5 is referred to as the “law of centralization,” and some biblical scholars believe, and Judaism, Islam, Christians, but it seems not as much Buddhists, Hindus have practiced this belief of God or sacred writings sanctioning a particular place of worship. The principle we can draw, according to the Renovare Study Bible, is that God defines conditions of our worship. Here is a portion of how Moses instructed Israel on defining the conditions of worship in the promised land.
You shall not act as we are acting here today, all of us according to our own desires, for you have not yet come into the rest and the possession that the Lord your God is giving you. When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from your enemies all around so that you live in safety, then you shall bring everything that I command you to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and your donations, and all your choice votive gifts that you vow to the Lord. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you together with your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, and the Levites who reside in your towns (since they have no allotment or inheritance with you).
Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place you happen to see. But only at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes—there you shall offer your burnt offerings and there you shall do everything I command you (Deuteronomy 12:8-14 NRSV).
HOW DO I CHOOSE A PLACE OF WORSHIP?
How can we apply this principle of God’s choosing a place of worship in today’s church environment? I’m choosing to go humorous on this one, because satire sometimes makes us aware of our disobedience to this principle of involving God–not just our preferences–in our decision for a place of worship! John Crist and company are pretty hilarious in the process of getting us to see our faults.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg’s wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.