I try to bring God's Word into my head through several avenues throughout the day. I read my Bible in the morning, usually reviewing the Sunday School passage for the coming week, sermon texts for the coming Sunday, the day's Proverbs chapter (read Proverbs every day, the chapter that corresponds with the date. you'll read it through 12 times a year. I rotate through a few translations: NLT, NASB, ESV, KJV,NIV), and I get a daily Bible reading email. A few days ago, this was the Bible reading email passage:
The Anointing Oil and Incense
22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, 24 and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. 25 And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27 and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28 and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. 30 You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31 And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32 It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33 Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’ ”
Ex 30:22-33 (ESV)
I wanted to reflect a minute on the idea here. God is instructing Moses to do something for worship that is not allowed anywhere else in Israel. The following verses reflect a similar instruction for the incense used in the Tabernacle. What can we learn from this? I see a couple of things, and they're not necessarily connected. Here you go:
1. I see indications of early authorship, probably Mosaic authorship of Exodus. Think about it. This is the 'secret formula' for oil and incense, and it's spelled out exactly! Why would a priestly traditionalist write this down several centuries later? This is the kind of thing you would keep a secret. Unless you are writing at the beginning, as you record all the specifics as God gives them to you. Later priests would have lesser fears of losing the formula---after all, there were plenty to teach it to, plenty to remember it. Also, they would have had the option to record the formula securely, the way Coke or KFC keep their 1 copy of the recipe safe.
2. And this is the more applicable thought: There are things that belong only in the worship of God. There are behaviors, perhaps, and preparations that are about serving God, and we ought not borrow them into our daily lives.
I think there is a difference between walking in daily obedience and the acts of corporate worship as the Body of Christ. Where do these lines lie? Well, for one, I'd put the Lord's Supper as an act of the Church. At the very least, a local body approved gathering, such as church operated home groups. It's not something for a group to just decide to do on a weekend retreat, but should be something going on during a normal, expected, primarily attended activity. (Primarily attended? that would be the primary meetings of the church, such as normal worship services, home groups that are normal activities, something that attending marks active involvement in the church. And that carries no added on cost.)
Baptism should be, as much as possible, handled within the church context. There are reasons for exception here, and there would be with the Lord's Supper. One would not expect soldiers on deployment to find a local church to attend, but would not deny their participation in the Lord's Supper. However, chaplains are generally representatives of local churches somewhere, so there's a connection.
What other things? Good question! What do you think? I'd like to know if you think there are things that belong only in the worship of God, and things that belong outside of that. I know we would agree that certain things don't belong in church, when it comes to music lyrics and clothing, but many of those really don't belong in our lives at all. What about things from church behavior that we shouldn't take out at all?
3. The other side is that the worship of God should never be ordinary. A viable discussion can be had about being relevant and contextual, but the line stops at church becoming just like any other experience we have. Church should not be just as entertaining as culture, just as boring as lectures, just as somber as funerals, just as fun as the circus, or just as spiritual as the corporate retreat. There should be something different about being in church. And we should be careful to allow God to dictate that. Just as He told Moses how to mix the oil and the incense, let's have God tell us how to make our worship pleasing to Him.