Worship for the Gifted and Talented?
When it comes to worshipping God; how do we know what is acceptable worship? How do we know what God wants; what will be pleasing to Him? There has been an argument for a long long time that, “Whatever I am gifted at, I can use that in worship/service to God.” In other words, “God is happy with whatever I am good at.” Is that really the standard though? Is it really acceptable? Is that really a sound, logical, reasonable argument for the basis by which we worship God?
1) If we were to consider examples from the beginning of time, the answer would be “No”. What is the very first story in the Bible dealing with the sin of mankind after the story of Adam and Eve? It is the story of their two sons, Cain and Abel, worshipping God (Genesis 4:1-7). It’s the very first insight we have into worshipping God, and it exposes a very harsh reality from the beginning; God doesn’t care what we are good at, God wants us to care about what is good to Him. (acceptable – Philippians 4:18) Everyone knows Cain for killing his own brother, but we often overlook the first sin in the passage – worshipping God with an unacceptable offering. Cain was “gifted and talented” at gardening, and his brother Abel at shepherding; but even though Cain was good at growing grains and vegetables, it didn’t make the sacrifice pleasing before God. Just because we are good at something doesn’t mean it is good (acceptable) to God.
2) If we were to consider Jesus’ teaching, the answer would be “No”. There was debate in the day and time of Jesus about what constituted acceptable worship to God. The Samaritans claimed the same God as the Jews; however, they had their own practices and customs that were different than the Jews. Both claimed to worship God. Did it not matter? Was it okay to worship God however one pleased? Did Jesus condone the attitude of, “As long as you are worshipping God with a clear conscience, then it doesn’t matter how you worship God, it is all acceptable to Him”? He didn’t; did He? When speaking to the Samaritan woman in John 4 Christ resolutely stated, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (vv. 23-23) It’s not enough to be a worshipper of God, you need to be a true worshipper of God. Jesus makes it clear, that the policy of “whatever I am gifted at goes” just isn’t a reality when it comes to acceptable worship unto the Father.
3) If we were to consider God the Father, the answer would be “No”. Deciding what God wants is not a democratic choice. The authority is not in the hands of the people, but in the nature of the God we are to serve. God has regulated worship (I Cor. 14 – several examples in this chapter). He hasn’t left it up to us to decide who worships, when we worship, how we worship, where we worship, or even why we worship. From the beginning of the Bible to modern day, God has always had the authority to determine what is acceptable and what is not, because of 5 simple words “In the beginning, God created...” (Genesis 1:1) Because He is the Creator, He has the authority to determine what is acceptable. He always has, and He always will. What we are gifted at doesn’t matter. What God has commanded, does!
4) If we were to consider reason, the answer would be “No”. I am a good whistler. Does that mean at a worship service to God, we should set aside some time for me to get up and show off my whistling talents by doing a deep and emotional solo rendition of “Amazing Grace” (Trust me, tears would come to your eyes.)? Oh yeah… “To the glory of God” of course. You see, once we go down the road of “Whatever you are gifted and talented at is acceptable worship to God”… there is no end. I am not God. You are not God. WE do not get to decide what is acceptable to God. God is God, and He has communicated to us what is acceptable to Him. Let’s trust that, and go with that… to the true glory of God!
Another point to consider in relation to worshipping God based on our gifts, rather than the authority of the Bible, is that if it is our talents or gifts that authorize us to worship God in a particular way, does what we are ungifted (bad) at mean we don’t have to worship God in a particular way? For example, someone may say, “I’m gifted at playing the trombone, so I worship God with a trombone.” They play instruments to God, even though God does not accept that worship. Couldn’t someone also say, using the same reasoning, “I’m not good at singing, so therefore I don’t have to worship God in song.” Would that be okay; even though the scriptures specifically command us to worship God in song (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), regardless of our singing talents and abilities? If our talent is what authorizes us to worship God in a particular way; does our lack of talent authorize us to not worship God in a particular way? If our talent supersedes the authority of New Testament Scripture in how we worship God; then does our lack of talent also supersede the authority of the New Testament in how we are to worship God? I think it is fairly easy to see that authority is based upon the command of God, and not founded upon what each individual is good at, likes, or wants.
So how do we know what is pleasing to God? We don’t have to base it on what we think or feel. We don’t even have to base it on what we are good at. We just have to trust God. We have to base it on what He has told us is acceptable to Him. We have to go to the Holy Spirit, that is the divinely inspired word of the Holy Spirit, to know for certain what is pleasing to God. (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21) We have to open our Bibles and begin reading in Acts chapter 2, where the New Covenant commenced, and start from there and see what God has authorized for worship. That is the standard by which we will be accountable in judgment. The incorruptible and immortal standard is the Bible (I Peter 1:23-25)… not our gifts or talents. You don’t have to be “Gifted and Talented” to see that. You just have to be humble, and honest, and reasonable.