There is a school of thought that says that God has given us strict and detailed instructions on how we are to worship Him and any deviation from these instructions or any addition to them is wrong. This topic comes up with some frequency in our household. Well, an interesting example of this occurred yesterday.
I had been cleaning all morning trying to get the house in some kind of order for the Bible study I was hosting that afternoon. After lunch I sent the kids outside to play. A few minutes later Evangeline excitedly ran inside with a little flower for me and Malachi quickly followed her with a bouquet of his own. But before I even looked at the flowers I noticed the trail of muddy footprints that followed my children across the freshly mopped floors. I’ve told them before to not come in the house with their boots on. At that moment I didn’t want their extra offerings- the flowers they picked for me- all I wanted was their obedience. They would have shown their love for me so much more if they had not picked the flowers, but rather obeyed me and not caused extra work for me. So the thought that God is picky about how we worship started to make sense. All the extra ways of worship aren’t actually pleasing to Him if they aren’t what He wants.
But if we stop there then aren’t we just right back to a gospel of works?
After I scolded the children and they showed remorse for disobeying me, I then turned my attention to the beautiful flower offerings. I gushed about how beautiful they were and I added them to my flower vase over the sink. I kissed my babies on their heads and thanked them for bringing me something so beautiful. No, they didn’t get it right. Yes, I still had a mess to clean up. But I know they were trying to please me and show me how they think I’m a special person. If I can forgive my children’s mistakes and accept their imperfect offerings then surely God can do even better. He demands holiness, but this little thing called Grace comes into play more than we realize. God’s favor toward us can overlook millions upon millions of stupid things we do. He still kisses us on our heads and He knows that we think He’s pretty special. And someday we’ll be able to show Him true, perfect worship when all our sin is stripped away. Oh, what a happy day that will be!