A person would have to be “off his rocker” somewhat to wish to be stigmatized or to stand off from the multitudes. Such is the fate of those who have the label of being too narrow-minded. Immediately they become the castaways from whatever group they have previously been associated. Others withdraw from them, they are shunned or at best are pitied. Whatever the circumstances it does not feel good to be severed and alone. Selecting this for oneself does give some consolation. In this number (the third in this series), we shall look at being told, “you are too narrow-minded for me by the way you worship.”
ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP IS DETERMINED BY GOD
From the beginning, God has revealed Himself as the object of worship. Placing the first man and his mate in the Garden called “Eden” the will of God was to be followed and regardless of what caused man to stray the penalty was assessed upon man for his transgression. When Moses the grand leader bringing the people out of the bondage they had endured in Egypt, God knowing how man is influenced to regress into the fantasies of heathen worship to which the off-spring of Abraham had been subjected among the Egyptians, He immediately imposed upon them to refrain from the worship of any other God. Not only that, but they were to desist from bowing down to any likeness of a supposed god. Unless the heart is kept pure from such influences man would quickly give way to the worship of such idols. This becomes apparent as we read the history of the Hebrew people. We often scratch our heads in disbelief as the people are again and again turned to the mischief of Idolatry. Beginning with the “Golden Calf” molded by Aaron they ventured into false worship. It was a subtle thing that they did. Read the account carefully and it is clear that they were NOT worshipping another God, rather they were disobeying the 2nd commandment of making a false image of God. Aaron did NOT wish them to acknowledge another, but said, “this is thy gods, O Israel that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
Such is true today. It is not that people for the most part want another God, or wish a Savior different than Jesus; it is that they want to worship God according to our own fancies or contriving. Dedicate a building to the name of God, bejewel a tree in the honor of Deity, or alter the worship upon the Lord’s Day, these, and all like things, are man’s way of supplementing for the true worship of the Heavenly Father.
Jesus designated that having God as the object of worship is one of the “must’s” in life. “The true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:23-24). Without regard to the goodness or the great works of men, we err if we worship them (See Acts 14:8-18). We must recognize that the Angles created by God forbid the worship of men (see Rev. 22:9). On the other hand, Satan’s attempt to transform himself into an angel of light, over steps his bounds by desiring to be worshipped (II Cor. 11:14; Mt. 4:8-10). He reveals himself as the Evil One. Likewise, his servants seek to have men bow to images, whether actual or existing only in their mind. God has determined that He alone is to be worshipped.
WORSHIP IS EXPLICIT
Let it be said in the beginning: I am speaking in this article of worship when men gather determined to praise the Heavenly Father by the authority of Jesus Christ. Such worship is spoken of at length by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.
God has specified the avenues through which we can worship Him. Being specific, we must bow to His will. When there is a digression, then those remaining faithful to the Lord’s will, have historically been told by those departing, “you are too narrow-minded for me.”
THERE IS ONE DAY TO WORSHIP
When the three thousand were added to the church on the day of Pentecost they began to approach God in specific ways as they were instructed by the Apostles, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42). Things which otherwise would have pertained to daily activities for all men were thus set apart by the command and practice of those inspired to establish the work of the church by the authority of Christ in all the earth. This beginning on Pentecost, it was the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath (Lev. 23:15-16), (whether we recognize the name or not, it is commonly called Sunday). The breaking of bread was practiced by the disciples as an act of worship, on the first day of the week.
Later we are told, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7). When indicates that the disciples had this as a notable practice, therefore, awaited the arrival of the first day to break a loaf in worship. The definite article the sets the first day apart from all others. It taps the memory of all Christians that it was on the first day of the week that Jesus came forth from the grave (Mt. 28:1). When God made the world from the darkness, He brought forth light, and from the darkness of sin where lost men dwelt the light of the glorious gospel had power by the Lord’s resurrection. The first day in creation, and then, the first day of the week to worship.
This was always declared to be the day the disciples were (and are) to lay by in store for the things necessary in aiding and carrying on the work of the church (I Cor. 16:2). Why would another day be selected since the disciples were already gathered in worship?
The breaking of bread (the communion in the body and blood of Christ I Cor. 10:16-17), is a participation of all Christians on the first day of the week. There never has been a week that did not have a first day and never will there be a week void of the first day. As surely as the first day arrives disciples of Christ are to worship God through our Lord Jesus Christ. For a Christian to fail to worship it is sin. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ (Heb. 10:25). One who wilfully forsakes a gathering of disciples to worship on the first day—any first day commits sin. If one has the right to forsake one first day—if one can forsake any first day, pray tell me why one cannot forsake every first day? In light of this, in these modern times, not only from the world but also sometimes from the mouth of Christians comes the cry, you are too narrow-minded.
THE MANNER OF BREAKING BREAD IN WORSHIP IS SPECIFIED
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and break it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Mt. 26:27). Eating the Passover with His disciples prompted Jesus to set before their mind how He wanted them to remember Him, as we have seen, upon each first day of the week. The Marginal reading of the American Standard Version has for bread “a loaf.” It is clear that there was but one loaf as Jesus “broke” it in order to eat Himself, then proceeded to hand it to the disciples for them to do likewise. Paul writing to the Corinthian church, who was not present when Jesus so acted, makes it clear to them. “That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (I Cor. 11:23-24). This do means to do what I have done. Each disciple in turn followed Jesus example of taking the loaf and breaking and eating as He had done previous to them. Again, the Apostle says, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (I Cor. 10:16-17). The “we” who break the bread are the “we” who partake. We must break to partake, or, when “we” break then “we” must partake. Paul’s argument is striking: he argues for the unity of the church from the fact that in the assemblies of the church there was but one loaf of which they all partook. One body—one bread (one loaf). Today when churches of Christ assemble to break bread, there is no breaking, only eating, as though inspiration had said nothing. Only one loaf of bread is to be one the Lord’s table, not many loaves or many pieces of bread. When this is the case then we, that congregation is saying to the world, division is acceptable because the body (bread) of Christ is divided. The honest heart can reach no other conclusion. Many members of the church look upon we who insist that only one loaf of bread is to be on the table, speak with derision of us by saying you are too narrow-minded for me.
Following that, we are told, And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” (Mt. 26:27). The American Standard Version says, “And he took a cup…” So, Jesus took (hold of, if you please), a cup, thanked the Father, and giving to the disciples commanded then to drank of it. They understood His meaning because Mark tells us (Mk. 14:23), “and they all drank of it.” As with the bread Jesus preceded them by example. “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” (I Cor. 11:25). No other conclusion can be reached than Jesus drank of the cup which He took, the cup He gave to them, the cup He commanded them to Drink of as He had done, the cup which each of them also drank from. Some of my brethren want us to believe that we can set aside the example, statement, and commandment of Christ and use more than one cup—a cup for each of us individually. A sad position it is for those who otherwise demand that we follow the Word of God on other subjects proclaiming that unity is attainable only through the Word. What does cup mean? The New Testament Greek word is Poterion. J. H. Thayer defines it in his Lexicon (recognized the world over for its scholarship), “a cup a drinking vessel” (Page 533). Again (Page 189), “the vessel out of which one drinks.” I feel silly in defining “cup” because the world as well as Christian people know what a cup is! I was at a yard sale a while back and I heard a lady ask of the one having the sale, “how much is this cup?” I looked to see what she held in her hand. It was a commemorative cup of the 200-year anniversary of the beginning of the United States. No, it was not grape juice, water, coke or any other drink element or liquid. It was a cup. Exactly what Jesus had in His hand when he instituted the Lord’s Supper for His disciples to partake of for centuries following. Recognizing Jesus as the King of all kings and the Lord of my life, I must obey His will and encourage the same from my fellow disciples in this world. We cannot succumb to ridicule from our brethren who declare, you are too narrow-minded for me.
THERE WAS (IS) A DRINK ELEMENT IN THE CUP
“Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mk. 14:23). The fruit of the vine is the “juice of the grape.” There is both a positive and a negative lesson here. The positive is the vine produces unfermented juice. We are told earlier that it was “the first day of unleavened bread” (Verse 12), reminding us that ALL leaven was to be removed from their houses. Fermented juice is what leaven is to bread. Therefore, the negative is that the juice was not fermented, or that it was non-alcoholic. We are told that there are things written afore time for our learning (Rom. 15:4). In the old scriptures we have this account of Pharaoh’s Butler, “And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and I pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” (Gen. 40:11). That is precisely the case in the Lord’s Supper. That which is pressed from grapes is in the cup from which Christians are to drink in worship. A point by the wayside: When Jesus spoke to the woman taken in the act of adultery, He told her “go, and sin no more.” (Jn. 8:11). That shows she was guilty of sin and it was to be done “no more.” When the Lord said “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine…” that shows he had drunk of the cup of juice, but would do it “no more until… So, the cup must contain grape juice that has not fermented—non-alcoholic juice. We then are to follow Jesus’ example and use ONLY grape juice without regard to our brethren who smudge us by saying, you are too narrow-minded for men.
(More to follow). Barney Owens 2011
I enjoy solitude even in the company of others.