Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Worship Wars

Pastor and Theologian R.C. Sproul in his book, A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity, says, "The real crisis of worship today is not that the preaching is paltry or that it’s too drafty in church. It is that people have no sense of the presence of God, and if they have no sense of His presence, how can they be moved to express the deepest feelings of their souls to honor, revere, worship, and glorify God?”

A question that should be raised by the above excerpt is this: "Why do people not have a sense of the presence of God?" While there are quite a few factors that contribute to this, the one that stands out to me is the err of focus in our worship, whether it be corporate or private. Why is this the case?

Now before we get started, let me be clear, this article isn't about the best way to worship. It is more of who worship should truly be about.

Many today in the church are constantly squabbling over the best way to do things. "John's style of music is so edifying, he uses electric guitars! Nothing like Felix's piano only approach." In doing so, proverbially speaking, they are making mountains out of molehills. There are certainly healthy, biblical parameters for worship, but there is a point where preference can turn into pleasing. However, this kind of pleasing isn't focused on God. It is focused on man.

The danger of man centred worship lies in two parts. First, it can be pragmatic, where the opinion,  whim, and pleasing of man is more sought after and accepted than the Word of God. Secondly, it can be selfish, where your actions and decisions for worship are only to satisfy your flesh and not Worship your Maker in Spirit and in Truth. When the Love of Christ is not the sole motivation of our Worship, it ultimately becomes a dogfight between each other to have our prides stroked the most.

The Apostle Paul didn't want the worship to be focused on him or anyone else. He wanted it to be focused on the Creator. Christianity isn't about what man does. It is about what Christ did. We see how horrified Paul was at the ideology of man centred worship, especially when it creeped into the church of Corinth. He rebuked them accordingly:

"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

How does this all tie back into the question in the second paragraph? Well, in short, it is this. One reason why people have no sense of the presence of God is because they are either worshipping themselves or others instead of God, so they do not seek the presence of God. Their hunger has been satisfied, granted it is only temporarily. People cannot sense the presence of God when it is clouded over by the din of idolatrous worship of anything but Him. Ouch, right? Hi, welcome to me. Hi, welcome to you.

Here's the thing. God is not going to fight people for the adoration He deserves, especially His children. In fact, there's no fight period. Keep this in mind, though, we are those kind of people. Each one of us constantly tries to steal the Glory of God for ourselves. We're just too prideful to admit we have no claim on the praise that is due Him. However, because God has redeemed us through the blood of Christ, He has changed and washed us clean, making our snow pure white. If you have ever seen white snow, you know how brilliant it is when the Sun's rays shine down upon it. It reflects and magnifies the brilliance of the light. The same should be true of us when it comes to the Glory and worship of God.

Don't be a glory thief. Be a glory reflector.

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