Few things harden the soul, deaden the heart, close the ears, and chill the affections more. It serves as one of the greatest weapons of our adversary, though few recognize it. One would expect such a foe to be obvious, but it often chooses to operate subtly in the shadows of the mind and the private ruminations of the heart. It has the added deadliness of feigning holiness while encouraging pride with the false assumption we are more holy than others due to our greater “discernment.” Donning the robes of the critic maims and kills many would-be worshipers in churches every single Sunday morning.
In all honesty, very few of us knowingly enter church with such a motivation. How silly it would be for us to rise early on Sundays to play the role of the critic. But as we take our seat in the church pew, our focus and motivation cowers to the voice crying out within, “they are not doing this right,” “they are not doing this well,” “they are not doing this as I would do it.” And in the midst of it all, we move from worshipper to critic. No doubt, the Christian is called to be discerning and discriminating in worship. All that passes for worship these days should not receive our approval. Paul has no qualms identifying wrong practices in the worship of the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 11-14), Jesus is clear about worthy and non-worthy worship (John 4), and God’s seriousness about the manner and means by which we worship cannot be overestimated (Leviticus 10). Yet, there is a temptation to spend more time at church critiquing than confessing, judging than rejoicing, criticizing than praising, and challenging than receiving when there is very little reason to do so.
This trap is great and our adversary is pleased with the results. The Christian leaves church with a satisfied conscience. She rests having fulfilled her “weekly duty,” but little worship was practiced or experienced. Instead of meeting with God, she played the cynic. Instead of hearing the voice of God, she heard the frail words of the preacher. Instead of a mind stirred by truth, it was stymied in criticism. Instead of a heart moved with joy, it was hardened in judgment. If you or I depart church on Sunday mornings and our main thoughts or topics of conversation consist of concerns, critiques, and criticisms, it is likely we have become a critic rather than a worshiper.
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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition