Idols in Worship / Distractions in Worship / Focuses in Worship / What Worship is really about / Hmm…
We often love to enter into worship through music and song, but I believe that in today’s worship circles, there are many idols that can overtake a person’s mind, soul, body, and spirit, so that their worship, focus, self is not directed to God, but something less important…
1. THE SOUND- After a time of worship, people always will say “Wow, that sounded really good” or “That sounded terrible”. In our definition of worship, music seems to be the main dish, with everything else as side dishes. Worship = Music (and nothing else) for some people. But, as my good pal Ross King would say, “Worship is more than a song”. The truth is, we get to caught up in the music. During the time, we think about: how are the speakers sounding, did they sing that in the right key, this sounds different than the original, I love this song!, this doesn’t sound as good as it did last week, I don’t like his voice/guitar/instrument, I don’t like the flow of the music, and so on and so forth. I think Matt Redman put it best here, “When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come”. For so many people, when they think of worship, they just think of the music… it’s easy to do that. They are very connected, I’m not saying they are not. But worship is so much more than music. But some people make the music their “all”. But when the music changes or there is silence or something happens, and their “all” is stripped away, what do they do? Some people walk away. Matt says we should enter into worship, music or not, whether it sounds good or not!
2. WORSHIP LEADER- Off the top of my head I can think of David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Ross King, Robbie Seay, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, Watermark, Leeland, Shane and Shane, Darrell Evans, Todd Proctor, Jeremy Camp, Mercy Me, Spur 58, Todd Agnew, and many more… these people can be idols… “I love this song… I love any song by Charlie Hall”… “Oh, it’s another Crowder song, great!” … “I can’t stand Jeremy Camp’s worship”… etc. etc. etc. We idolize these people and set them up as the focus. But even looking at our own personal worship times at church or school or wherever, we put our focus on the worship leader. The room is usually built that way… big stage, lots of lights, all the chairs directed the the center of the stage where the worship leader sits or stands and says “This isn’t about me”… hard, isn’t it. Everything points to them, but you’re not supposed to focus on them… The layout is so much like a concert… Really a worship leader is simply a person who uses the gifts that God has given them and uses them to help other people worship God… a worship leader can lead the way, but can’t make people follow… and yes, we like to hear from the worship leaders (and I know I’m guilty of this) but we already get a sermon from the pastor… it’s hard… i see things both ways. Well, sometimes I wonder what it was like when Asaph and the Sons of Korah led worship… were they at the front, the back, the sides, the middle, in amongst the people…? I wonder… anyway, our focus is often on the leader and their personality and character, and not God’s…
3. THE LOOK- usually referring to the format of the presentation of the words- do they look interesting? are they colorful? Do they capture your attention? Do they make you think? Do they help the words and music? Are they distracting? Are they ugly? Can you read them? Can you understand them? Sometimes we just look at the slides and praise how creatively done they are (I’m guilty of working for hours on slides… *slap myself on wrist*)… We praise the beautiful slides, but what about the beautiful God? And then if a slide comes in too late or early, people freak out!!! or if one word is wrong, then people are screaming bloody murder!!! once again, it is a tool to help us worship, not the thing we are to focus on itself…
4. THE WORDS- We like certain songs because the words flow, the words sound good, they sound real, they rhyme, they contain vital biblical truth, they are so mysterious and symbolic, and so on. But more often than not WE SING THE FREAKIN’ WORDS WITHOUT EVEN THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE ARE SAYING!!!!!!! we shouldn’t focus on them completely, but we should know what we are declaring to God! They are a tool, we can take it and use it… but often people just look at what the song says and agree or disagree or (more often than not) sing it without a thought in the world… sad…
There are also Distractions, Hindrances, in Worship
1. The Flesh- Hunger, Tiredness, Boredome
2. Other People- Talkers, Disrupters, Nonparticipaters
3. Too much focus on any of the above
4. Electronics- phone, ipod, other devices
5. People going in and out
6. Breaks in the worship flow
7. Outside sounds- from other rooms, from the hall
8. The Setting- worship outside can be tragic for some ADD people
There are things we think about too much in Worship
1. Any of the above
3. Other activities
4. Our friends and family
5. Our plans
6. Our worries
7. Our regretfulness over past actions of the day
8. What people are thinking of us
9. What we might do differen in a worship service (big one for me)
10. What is wrong with people
Things that are important, despite everything else, in worship
1. Excellence- We can make sound a god, but we should do everything excellently. We are to do everything as for God not man, and bring the best of our abilities into worship (specifically worship leading). Exodus 23:19 says “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.” We need to pursue excellence, but NOT MAKE AN IDOL OUT OF IT!
2. Attitude- What is your approach? Why are you here? What do you want to do here? Who is God? Who are you? What is worship? You should know all this so you know how to think, act, sing, listen, learn, grow, how to be in the worship service. 2 Chronicles 19:9 says “He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD.” Our spiritual act of worship is serving God with our whole life, right? Well, to serve we must do it wholeheartedly (excellence) and with the appropriate attitude: ultimately fear of the Lord- awe, respect, fear, and understanding who God is and who You are…
3. Focus- What you focus on is your god. Short and simple. You can do other things than pray, read the Bible, go to church, and worship, but what is your focus in all of this? God. And in worship, you need to focus on God. Devotion. Obsession. Focus on Him. In Nehemiah 5:16, Nehemiah says to God “Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall” Some might say, “OH Well, he should have been in church more often…” but really, though he was focused and devoted to the working/building of the wall. he was really devoting Himself and focusing on serving God.
4. The Heart’s Love- Ultimately, it all comes down to love. What does your heart love? Do you love worship? not just music, or worship leaders, or your church, or the words, or the songs, but spending time in prayer and praise to God? In Luke 12:34, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”… So is your heart beating for your clothes, your possesions, your appearance, your works, is the treasure that you desire with all your heart and soul and mind and being God or some temporary thing? What do you love? What does your heart beat for?
5. Your Life- Your Life is the sacrifice God wants… but not to burn it and throw out the ashes… he wants to transform you and make you new… but He wants you to give over your life to Him… Paul urges the Romans in Romans 12:1, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Giving it all over. Surrender. Complete service. Living for God as a living sacrifice”
All of the other elements of worship are external… but God looks at the heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9- David tells his son Solomon
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with awilling mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
(acknowledge- let God be the one you love, serve-let your worship be your life, wholehearted- do it to the best of your being, devotion- focus on God, willing mind- approach Him with the right attitude)
“Draw Near to God and He will Draw Near to You” !
Ultimately, we worship all throughout our life. We just choose what we worship, what is important, what we draw near to- The things of this earth, or the One of Eternity… Hmmm…