It Is Not About Us!
Like a healthy marriage, when we give unselfishly to our partner we receive a response from them. But our desire to give to our spouse should not be contingent on their responding to that gift. If so, our gift of love is ultimately self-serving and our love has become conditional. Rather we should love our partner in marriage because they are the object of our affection. We are pleased to give to them regardless of whether or not there will be an appropriate response to us in return. And again, in a healthy marriage where each partner wants to build the other one up – each receives as well as gives.
God is always communicating his presence to his people. He is always responding to us. He wants us to understand his word. He wants us to know his guidance and direction. He not only responds to us when we worship, he responds to us at all times.
But we don’t worship him so that we will feel his presence, or so that he will speak to us. That’s starting out on the wrong foot. We worship him because he is worthy to be praised. We worship him because he is continually revealing himself to us. We worship him because there is nothing left of value that we can hold on to.
Our worship is the response of the created to the wonder of the Creator and our need to extend ourselves back to him. It’s what we were created for. All created things will proclaim the reality of the Creator.
Today the worship music industry has very much created a ‘need’ among believers for worship which impacts ‘them’. When our worship rises and falls on our feelings and our personal sense of experience alone, we have become more followers of style than followers of God – more worshippers of ‘worship’ than worshippers of God. We begin to need to have the music of worship impact us and we hungrily search out that which fills that need.
We have become consumers of worship music not worshippers of God, passionate pursuers of his presence. We have become connoisseurs of this worship music phenomenon – at once overwhelmingly enthusiastic about a favoured song and critical to the extreme of that which doesn’t meet our high standards for ‘anointed’ worship.
We come by it honestly. North American culture is pleasure-based. We adulate music stars, the lives of the rich and famous. We have fallen so far into the glut of entertainment and self-indulgence that reality TV has wormed its way into people’s ‘real’ lives. We are entertained by watching people choose spouses, go on exotic adventures and by watching married couples placed in extreme temptation – just so we can see what happens.
So when we come together as Christians, we are tempted to recreate that performance-based, hedonistic environment. We are often driven to that which best entertains us, that which makes our time well-spent. We even choose our church because the Sunday morning service is one hour of well-executed entertainment.
We test our opinions of a worship experience with each other the same way we do with secular movies and music. “Wow, that movie really sucked!” and “Wow, worship today really sucked!”
We evaluate our worship experience by the same measuring stick that we use to evaluate entertainment. “Church was boring today.” or “Man, did that lead guitar ever have awesome licks!” Our critical expressions reflect an attitude that focuses back on “me”. What did I get or not get out of this experience?
It’s easy to see how it happens. A talented, gifted worship leader is wonderful to follow into a time of worship. And sometimes we begin to see that worship leader as being the one who “makes worship happen”. So we tend to focus on their talent, gifts and abilities rather than the Spirit of God working through them and their abilities.
next...Worship is for God and God Alone
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