Vol.XV No.VI Pg.1
August 1978

Will - Worship

Robert F. Turner

In Col. 2:18-23 Paul condemns a type of worship called "voluntary humility" (f.n. "of his own mere will") or "will-worship: The textual and exegetical problems of this passage are many, and we will not go into them here. But we are impressed by the obvious reference to "worship" that is not truly worship at all, but a mere satisfaction which the so-called worshiper may get from his "show of wisdom, humility, and severe treatment of his body." This is "will-worship."

There are some who "glory" in the cloistered life of monk or nun; some actually desire persecution, and contrive to bring it upon themselves; or love worship for mere worship's sake. On the surface they appear to be making great sacrifice "for the Lord," when in reality they are satisfying their flesh. Arbitrary religious acts, originating in the human will and for fleshly satisfaction, have no place in true worship and submission to God.

Nor is "will-worship" something found only in ancient Colossae. We frequently talk with people who seem to think that if they like a certain type of music in "worship" (from deep throated organ tones, to jazz bands), God must surely be, pleased with that. If dimmed lights and theatrical performances make them "feel better" God must surely consider that "worship." It is worship all right — but we are serving (and kidding) ourselves. Such worship is "of taste" not "of faith."

And I wonder if we have given proper thought to what we are saying when we talk about "enjoying" the singing? "Rejoicing in the Lord" is not the same as jiving with the song leader. Neither morbid piety nor foot-patting rhythms should be our goal. If our singing — either stately and sedate, or a Sunday morning imitation of real "country-western"— becomes a mere satisfaction of our musical tastes, we have degenerated into "will-worship" and need to revise our thinking.

I believe our selection of worship songs has degenerated, but plugging for my taste in music would completely pervert the purpose of this article. Instead, let us all forget what we like in tune and rhythm, and concentrate on truly worshiping God.