Primitive Worship: The Return of the Seventy-Two

choirSingingEvery once in a while, the discussion about worship reemerges. We are separated as Christians by our various worship styles (among other things). Everyone thinks they’re the ones who worship correctly.

Over the years, I’ve heard myriads of teachers expound upon the correct way to worship. That is to say, they try to tell us what the Bible says about the subject. They attempt to answer the question, “What is true Biblical worship?” You know; how does God want to be worshiped?

“Most people probably don’t care what the Bible has to say…”

Worship is one of those hills upon which I’m not willing to die. In other words, I don’t know who’s right. I tend to believe the last person I heard teach on the subject. Then, of course, another one comes along and I believe that one.

The funny thing about all this is that most people probably don’t care what the Bible has to say about the subject. They merely do what they’ve always done and that’s that. They don’t want anyone confusing them with Scripture.

Then there are those who are tied to the liturgy. Some of them don’t give two wits about how Scriptural your worship is as long as you don’t do anything liturgically incorrect.Jump-for-joy

I remember one Christmas while I was attending seminary, someone placed a wreath at the bottom of the large cross hanging in the front of the chapel. One would have thought it was a sign of the apocalypse. And some of the biggest stink was made by people who weren’t even sure if the Bible was the Word of God. The wreath, according to them, was to be placed at the top of the cross. Horror of horrors!

The joyous return of the seventy-two.

That is merely one of many stories I could relate to you. Suffice it to say, people want worship to be just as they want it to be—period. So, is there a right way, or are we all wrong?

With fear and trepidation, may I refer you to a story in Scripture? Luke 10 tells of the return of the seventy-two. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. As you may recall, Jesus sent them out as a sort of advance ministry crew. When they came back, they were joyously sharing their stories of what God had done in the field. Jesus was “full of joy through the Holy Spirit,” praised the Father in Heaven, and shared a word with the seventy-two.

They had a wonderful time that sounds a bit like worship. Many people, in fact, point to this as a time of “primitive” worship. As I look over the passage, the word “worship” was not used. Still, I must agree it appears that’s exactly what they were doing together—corporate worship.jesus-laughing1

Interestingly enough, I think the only way the word primitive can be applied is if it’s compared it to our worship services today. Since we are obviously sophisticated, what Jesus and the gang did had to be considered as primitive.

Hmmm… So, who does it right?


[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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