Worship is about responding to God, not showing off our talent or training.
In Exodus 20:25 we find a fascinating verse about God’s instructions for building altars by His people: “If you make a stone altar for Me, you must not build it out of cut stones. If you use your chisel on it, you will defile it.”
Throughout the Old Testament, many of the major characters built altar to God, but all of them built altars uniquely distinct from the altars of the pagan nations. The altars of pagan nations were elaborate, ostentatious works of art. They did not speak of humility, but pride. They did not bring glory to God; instead, they glorified man - man’s work, man’s design, man’s contribution. In fact, tribes, cities and even nations competed with each other to see who could build the most grandiose altar and temple. This is not what God wanted. He wanted altars that glorified Him, not the flesh of those who created them. In other words, He wants our sacrifices to be about Him, not about us. Do you know what God loves? He loves the simple, spontaneous free-flowing worship that comes out of our hearts. He is not looking for pomp and ceremony; He is looking for genuine commitment to Him.
So God gave His instructions for building His altars with uncut stones, and by doing so there are at least three things emphasized for our remembrance.
1) God wants altars built by His people to be distinct from the altars of the world. He reminds us with these instructions that He wants His people to be distinct from the world, as well.
2) Uncut stones remind us that these altars were temporary altars. God’s final, permanent altar would come in Christ Jesus.
3) God’s altar of uncut stones remind us that God’s altars are of His design alone. We can add nothing by the work of our hands or of through our own personal righteousness to contribute to the finished work of Christ Jesus.
There is beauty in the uncut stones of genuine worship. It’s never about the show, about our talent or our training. It is not about our works of righteousness. All human additions shift the focus off of God and onto human ability. Genuine worship is about responding to God in pure uncut adoration, for His singular work of redemption through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus, designed and accomplished, uncut, unvarnished, and unassisted by Him alone.