Vol.II No.IV Pg.5
May 1965

The "Audience" Complex

Robert F. Turner

The spectator" sports provide the "show" for an "audience." A few players carry the ball, bat and run, swim or skate; while the vast majority get their thrills by seeing and hearing -- and mentally associating themselves with the participants. Yes, even in a spectator sport the audience must give attention to the plays, and in a sense "become a part" of the game, to really enjoy it.

But in the worship of God many "church goers" are satisfied with an "audience" status; and worse still, are often an inattentive audience.

We "go to church," arrive late, thumb through the song-books, play with the children, note the neighbor's new hat, take a nap, absentmindedly partake of the Lord's Supper, and bow our heads for the "Amen!" This is WORSHIP????

Under the Old Law (Judaism) the Levitical priesthood offered the sacrifice and did all mediatory service at the altar and in the Holy Place. The people were participants in an empathic sense only, once the material for the sacrifice had been provided. Catholicism, growing out of an earlier "falling away" with respect to authority, developed the bishopric system into a full-grown hierarchy, with a "priesthood" that closely paralleled that of Judaism.

Many Protestant churches began with efforts to limit the power of the "clergy" but most of them sought to maintain "brotherhood" machinery which required "high offices," so the "'priesthood" conception continued. The people (called "laity" to distinguish them from the "nobility" (?)) may pay the bills, but the priests must "serve at the altar." And even today many "worshippers" are content to "attend" worship -- approaching the throne of God only through empathy (imaginative association) with some "pastor" or "priest."

But New Testament Christianity has each Christian a "priest." We are "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 2:5) Christ is our High Priest, under a new and different law. (Heb. 7:12-28)

In Christianity there is no hierarchy. (Matt. 20:25-28) We have ONE Master, even Christ; and all the rest are "brethren." (Matt. 23:8) Even the overseers of the local church must not be "lords over God's heritage" but examples to the flock. (1 Pet.5:3)

Instead of "attending worship" you should be a worshipper. Instead of trying to build greater "audiences" we need to work for more "players"-- more participators. The worship is not "up front"-- tied to an altar, gold-plated cross, or preacher's platform. You are more than a "spectator" if you are truly a Christian -- you are a priest of the Most High God, gathered with other priests to offer up spiritual sacrifices.

When prayer is to be offered, YOU pray. YOU sing -- not for aesthetic reasons, to please your neighbor, but to express your praise unto God. Give your body "a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1) and save your soul.