Criticism within Worship

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/23

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: Mark 14:3-8
One of the things that I am usually most interested in is observing communities and understanding how they change and move over time. In a lot of ways, it’s a major part of what I study in University, and I think that a lot of what we see regularly in any community — whether it’s a racial community, a spiritual community, or a geographic community — can also be found in the Christian community. We support each other and we build each other up, but we also tear each other down pretty often. The church’s history is one of division and splits, and while that isn’t always a bad thing, I think it’s worrying when people in a community are so worried about criticizing each other that they forget the support and care that should be at the core of the community.

I think that dangerous criticism is one thing that we see Jesus reprimanding here in this passage. Here, a woman uses a very expensive perfume ointment to anoint, or wash off, Jesus. The use of oils at the time to clean oneself was pretty normal, but this woman goes above and beyond in using an entire bottle of very pricy ointment. Clearly, she cares deeply for Jesus and shows her devotion in this act. But the disciples criticize her, saying that the ointment would have been better used by being sold or donated. Jesus reprimands them for this, because although using the ointment for the poor would have been good, what the woman does here for Jesus is also good, and it is wrong to attack her for it. Jesus states that this woman has done what she could to devote herself to Jesus, and while it is not what the disciples expect or want out of a follower, it is righteous nonetheless.

In the same way, I think that we shouldn’t be so quick to attack or criticize the methods of worship that our fellow followers do. If what others do reflect devotion and love of Christ, then that also is good, even if it’s not quite what we expect or think is best.