Thoughts take intriguing turns. A Facebook friend and fellow writer, Steve Hutson, posted an article (here: http://www.christianity.com/church/worship-and-hymns/is-your-church-worship-more-pagan-than-christian.html?fb_action_ids=10152734770149820&fb_action_types=og.likes) that critiqued much of modern worship. The resulting discussion motivated me to further explore worship. If we are to follow Jesus, what we worship and how we worship will drive the depth of our faith.
At its core, worship celebrates the reality that God has more innate worth than anything we can find in heaven or earth. Our English word comes from “worthyship,” so in worship by definition we focus on him. Get that well, it forms the foundation of all that will follow. Similarly, the most common Greek word for worship is “proskuneo” (Matthew 4:10 for one example), to fall at the feet in adoration, or to acknowledge that God is our superior.
That concept scares me. Greatly.
Modern worship sometimes gets called a performance, and worship should be. But, often we get the roles reversed. Typically, the upfront leaders play the role of performers, with God as their director and prompter, to do a better job for the benefit of the congregation, the audience. We even darken the lighting in the congregation to better focus on the stage, and sometimes fog machines and lights move over the room. Just like a concert? However, that forces believers to be the center of worship, and we critique the service for how well it meets our needs. Did it serve us? Was the message biblical and relevant? Did the music stir us? Did we get a sense of intimacy with God? Did it move us?
In truth, the congregation performs, declaring the ultimate worth of God. The leaders are the prompters and directors, and the audience is God. Yes, when we worship like this, we will gain the intimacy and knowledge and support. But those are designed to be the results of worship, not the purpose. We transform the genuine purpose of worship, adoring God, into how we benefit.
May I gently suggest that when we worship worship for what it brings us, we commit spiritual adultery. We break faith with God as ultimate, and put ourselves in the place only God should possess. At the center.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you have a group of followers that you meet with regularly for worship? Why or why not? Do you confuse the purpose with the results? What do you expect to “get” out of worship? Do you tend to become a critic if those expectations aren’t met? Why is this such a serious issue? How does the person of God impact this discussion?
If you changed the focus of worship from your needs to adoring God, how would it change?