Calling all Peoples to Worship Jesus
Authentic worship should be culturally relevant. A person should not be expected to undergo a cultural lobotomy to become a worshiper. Nor should he or she be expected to learn a new culture in order to worship in the "right way." If anything, those of us who know Jesus should have the maturity to leave our comfort zone to meet people where they are.
In fact, the church should be the place where people discover their true identity.
I am not suggesting that we should choose songs and music for worship that are politically correct and try to please every personal preference of the people. Pleasing God is the focus of our worship. I am suggesting that it pleases God to be worshiped by people from every culture.
Cultural diversity in worship glorifies God. It reflects a creative God who created many diverse cultures for His pleasure. Diversity in worship also undermines any cultural pride and places our focus on the great grace of God extended toward all people.
In Revelation 7:11 we see a picture of worship in heaven. It is not a picture of one, non-distinctive superculture. Rather, John makes the observation that this array of peoples is from every nation, tribe and language. This sight gives us the assurance that God has prepared worshipers from every nation, tribe and language. Now we must simply call them to fulfill their God-given purpose. No wonder the psalmist was confident to proclaim, "Let the nations praise you, O God!"
We live in a generation where wars are being fought over mounting ethnic strife. Geographical conflicts are diminishing and ethnic ones are taking their place. That trend is increasing. As the world moves toward a Global Community, people are drawn to discover their ethnic identity.
Satan is poised and ready to exploit cultural differences to bring violence and destruction. The Church must be prepared for the challenge by being a place of reconciliation that gives dignity to all peoples.
Scripture gives two pictures of what we can expect in these last days. I believe one is what happens in the world and the other is what happens in the church. "Nation shall rise against nation" (or ethnos against ethnos"). But in the midst of that, I see a picture of the Church, with every ethnos united in worship of the Lamb of God.
Today we have an unprecedented privilege. Never before has there been such an opportunity to call the nations to come to worship Him. First, we must be worshipers ourselves. Then let us say to the nations. "Here is your God!"
Tom Pelton is the March for Jesus coordinator of the Americas. The next March for Jesus is May 17, 1997.
For more information in the US you may contact: March for Jesus, P.O. Box 3216, Austin, TX 78764; Phone: 512-416-0066; Fax: 512--445-5393.