Recently I attended a large worship service. A team of a dozen musicians led the worhsip in a very polished manner. The singing was enthusiastic and the presence of God could be felt. As we were singing a song about the Jesus seated on the throne in heaven, the Holy Spirit allowed me to hear what the evil one was saying. The voice I heard said:

Who cares;
I am winning.
You can do what you like in here,
I am winning out there where it all happens.
You can sing about heaven as much as you like
I am winning in the world where it counts.
This is a disturbing thought. The modern church puts enormous energy into worship services, but we are majoring on the minor. Participating in powerful worship services can give Christians a false of impression of what their church is achieving. It can create a feeling of victory even if the church is losing ground in the world. We should be majoring on the "one another stuff". When the God's people start to do this, the powers of evil will really start to tremble.

Worship and Celebration

Therefore we should not be surprised (although it seems like a heresy) that the New Testament does not give the same priority to worship. Jesus did not command Christians to meet for a weekly worship service. The reason is that for many Christians, this would be an impossible command. Nor does the New Testament state that we need to listen to a sermon every week. By focussing so much effort and energy on the Sunday worship celebrations, we are "majoring on the minor". We are putting our energy into something that is good, but not essential.

The New Testament only contains one command that Christians should meet together regularly.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb 10:25)

The reason for meeting is to encourage and build up each other; to do the "one another stuff". When we meet together, we should focus on doing what the New Testament commanded us to do.

One Another Stuff

Jesus and the Apostles commanded the church to focus on the "one another stuff". The following are just a few of the things that Christians are required to do.

Love one another (John 13:34,35; 15:12,17).

Honour one another above yourselves (Rom 12:10).

Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16).

Have concern for each other (1 Cor 12:25).

Serve one another in love (Gals 5:13).

Teach and admonish one another (Col 3:16).

Encourage one another (1 Thes 4:18; 5:11).

Encourage one another daily (Heb 3:13).

Love one another deeply, from the heart (1 Pet 1:22).

Serve each other (1 Pet 4:10).

Show humility toward one another (1 Pet 5:5).

Have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).

Many of these commands are repeated several times. We are told to love each other about twenty times. All these things are important for strengthening the church and maturing Christians. They are essential, even if the church is persecuted and cannot meet together in large numbers for worship. The sad thing is that we are so busy with our worship celebration, that all this "one another stuff" is squeezed out. There are several reasons for this.

  1. A quality celebration service needs "semi-professional" musicians and leadership. The congregation participates but in a responsive way. The pastor preaches and the people listen. This performer/observer divide is not conducive to "one another stuff".

  2. People drive to the worship/celebration service from all over the city. The only time they see each other is on Sunday morning. This makes doing the "one another stuff" almost impossible. Saying "God loves you" to the person next to you or taking a couple of minutes to speak to someone is a poor substitute.

  3. In a celebration the focus is relating to God, rather than relating to the other people in the meeting. People can worship without having any contact with the people sitting around them, except for passing the offering bag. If we do not know the people we are worshipping with, then there will be no unforgiveness to be a barrier to worship.

  4. The "one another stuff" is often left for optional mid-week meetings and for many Christians they do not happen at all. Home groups often focus on teaching, so even they do no really do the "one another stuff".

Quality of worship is no indicator of quality of relationships. A good test of the quality of relationships is the amount of forgiveness that is taking place.

Forgive one another (Col 3:13).

If people are not interacting them will not be much stuff to forgive. It is interesting that much of the offence among Christians is against the pastor and worship leader, or friends and work mates. Christians do not have enough interaction to cause offence and need forgiveness. Most interaction is with the pastor and worship leader.

Balance

Four the last four hundred years, church services were dominated by preachers and teachers. That was all right while people could not read, but now it is redundant. Preaching does not change lives. In the last twenty years we have seen an enormous shift towards worship. Worship is important, but it should not be concentrated on a couple hours on a Sunday. Our whole life should be an act of worship. This is the message of Romans 12:1,2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

When we submit to the will of God, our whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship, which is pleasing to God. Part of submitting to his will is doing the "one another stuff".

God's people should desire to worship him, but they should also obey his commands. We have got the balance wrong. We put most of our energy into celebration and worship. In contrast, the New Testament, the "one another stuff" should be the primary focus of every meeting of Christians.

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