I read something pretty cool in Spirituality According to Paul by Rodney Reeves today. Here’s an excerpt:
The earliest reputation of the church, the first things Christians were known for were hospitality and their strange way of worship. Eighty years after the death of Christ, Pliny the Younger (the Roman governor of Bithynia) complained to Caesar about a growing menace: Christians who assembled on Sunday in order to sing together a hymn to Christ as if they were singing to a god. Even back then the practice seemed off. Of course in those days singing praise to human rulers was a common occurrence; Caesar was more than willing to receive such accolades. And songs of praise were offered in temples to gods all over the empire. But to gather in a room (not a temple!) without an idol (where is the god?) and sing to one another as offering praise to God was considered bizarre. And especially to Pliny, what these Christians were singing was even more peculiar… Imagine Pliny’s confusion when he hears that some Gentiles in his province are gathering on a certain day to worship a Jewish messiah who was crucified—just one man among thousands who were put to death by Rome. No wonder Pliny was suspicious of these people; it must have seemed to him like they had lost their minds (P 112-113.)”
It seems that there are two extremes that modern churches can slip into: those that get crazy with worship and spiritual gifts and are not hospitable to outsiders and those which try so hard to be hospitable and seeker sensitive that they dumb down worship to make it seem not so strange. I love how Reeves points out that initially worship and hospitality actually seemed quite at home together in the church. Worship, by its very nature, can seem to be very restrictive and closed to outsiders but does it have to be so?
How do you think a church can be both hospitable and worshipful at the same time without falling into the ditch on both sides of the road?
Related Post: The Gifts of the Spirit and Centered Set Faith