In 2 Samuel, we find that David had a great desire to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. The desire was a good one; but he didn’t do it the way God had commanded to do it in His Law. The result was calamity – one of David’s faithful men died. Once, when the Philistines had captured the ark, God had judged them with sickness and they decided to return the ark back to Israel. So they sent the ark back on a bullock cart. David had heard of that incident. He knew that the law of Moses had said very clearly that the ark should be carried only by the Kohathites, the sons of Levi. But David thought that method was all right for short distances. But since this was a long trip, he decided that the Philistine method was better and more sensible. So he put the ark on a bullock cart. The oxen stumbled on the rough roads and the ark began to shake. Uzzah reached out his hand to hold the ark so that it would not fall. God struck him down immediately for his irreverence, and he died.
Uzzah did what he did, with a good motive; but he still violated God’s law. Even if our motive is good, if we go against God’s Word, we will still suffer. To do a right thing with a bad motive is unacceptable to God. But it is equally unacceptable to Him if we do a wrong thing with a good motive. The end can never justify the means. Here we see that Uzzah’s end was good – to prevent the ark from falling. But Uzzah also knew the Law of Moses that said no-one was to touch the ark. Even the Kohathites were not allowed to touch the ark itself. They had to cover the ark with the veil of the tabernacle before carrying it, so that they did not actually touch the ark (Num.4:15). God had clearly stated that the punishment for anyone touching the ark would be death.
We can face this question, when we decide to do evangelism. How shall we do it – God’s way or man’s way? Shall we imitate the methods of multinational companies when we do God’s work?
Many Christians say today that they need money in order to do evangelism. Is your dependence on money or on the Holy Spirit? What you should say is, “We need the Holy Spirit’s power to do evangelism.” If you have the Holy Spirit’s power, whether you have money or not, God’s work will be done. Only worldly corporations and organisations need money in order to survive. When churches also come to the place where they say, “Only if we have money we can go on”, we have to say that they too have descended to the level of these worldly organisations. In the Acts of the Apostles there is no mention of money at all in relation to evangelism or God’s work. Occasionally they would collect money for the poor believers, but never to pay the apostles! They never prayed to God for more and more money, as so many people do today. They prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit. The methods of the world (the bullock carts) have replaced God’s methods today. That’s why there is spiritual death. We need to understand what God is trying to say to us here.
Later on, David brought the ark to Jerusalem, the proper way – on the shoulders of the Levites. This time he was so full of joy that he danced before the Lord with all his might (6:14). That was the way they expressed their worship and praise to God. They used musical instruments, clapped their hands, shouted and danced. David was a worshipper. But as he was coming to the city, his wife Michal (the daughter of Saul) saw him dancing and was very upset (v.16). She despised him in her heart. She despised an anointed servant of God who was worshipping in a way that she did not appreciate. There may be people who are worshipping God today in a way that you don’t appreciate. You don’t have to imitate them; but you don’t have to despise them either. Michal did not have to start dancing like David; but she was not to despise her husband. Let us not imagine that only the way we worship is the right way.
Almost every Christian group feels that the way they worship alone is the right way; and they require that everyone do it their way. In the Sunday worship meetings of some Christian groups, everyone sits quietly as if it is a funeral service. That does not appeal to me, because a worship service must not be like a funeral service. It is to be a time of rejoicing, because we are celebrating the fact that the cross is empty, that Jesus conquered the grave and has risen from the dead. But these folk behave as though Jesus is still dead! But then there are other Christians who go to the opposite extreme. They feel that the Holy Spirit is present only when the noise reaches a certain level – and so they keep raising their voice and working up their emotions, to “bring the Holy Spirit into their midst”. This is a deception too. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come when the volume is raised on the amplifier. I wish it were that easy, but it isn’t. You have to have a clear conscience.
I don’t want to despise either of these groups. But I don’t want to imitate them either. I am free to worship the Lord my way. Don’t despise the way another person worships the Lord, and don’t imagine the way you worship is the only right way. Give others freedom. God looks at the heart, and not at the outward expression.