Saturday, November 13, 2010

Informed worship

Worship or entertainment?
One of the greatest themes in the Bible is that of worship. The greatness and majesty of God demands our worship. As finite beings, the natural outflow of our finiteness in the presence of the infinite greatness of God is worship. Those who do not worship God, or worship amiss, simply are not informed of the greatness of God and who God is!

The problem with the modern worship movement, is that it has created a very strong environment of worshitainment. Why has this happened?

1. Entertainment oriented worship

The problem lies with modern entertainment and the influences it has had on the church. It is here that the church has not been an influencer but was influenced by prevailing cultural norms. Music styles became the dominating force in deciding whether a particular worship service was “liked” or not! I must say, there are some songs, whether modern or hymns, that are simply aesthetically boring and not conducive to worship in song! Obviously, worship in song should not bore us to death, but our worship cannot be based on its entertainment value! That shows how shallow we are in the modern church, when we choose worship songs based on how it makes us feel, forgetting that it is God that we must glorify!

There are many secular songs out there that give me goose bumps, but that does not mean I must use them in worship. What it does mean is that those songs are aesthetically appealing to me. We are creatures that can appreciate beauty, and as a result, certain music will simply not appeal to us. The problem comes when the church gathers in corporate worship, where people of very diverse tastes get together to worship God. Some will enjoy one type of music while others may hate that style! What do we do about that?

The church is the community of God. It is consideration of this community that brings us to church services all over the world on Sundays for corporate, community, Christian worship (C³W). And since our C³W is attended by so many different types of people with so many different tastes, we cannot base our worship in song too much on styles of music!

2. Restrictive idea of worship

Another reason why the modern worship movement has created a strong environment of worshitainment, is that it has restricted the definition of worship. In the mind of this movement, worship is all about singing, and in the mind of modern Christians, it has become a great source of entertainment. Therefore, it has lost its essence, God!

Worship is about God! It is the fact that all we do must be done to glorify God. Our worship must be in spirit and in truth. Jesus told the Samaritan woman:
“[22] You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. [23] But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. [24] God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
(John 4:22-24)”
Apart from worship from the depths of the inner man, our worship must be based on what is known of God, the truth. Christianity is clearly a propositional faith. Those propositions are clearly defined in the great doctrines of Christianity. If we ignore these doctrines we can be labelled as false teachers, or even worse, heretics! Jesus told the woman that the Samaritans worshipped what they did not know. Many today worship what they do not know.

If we create in our minds a god that is not declared in the Bible, then our worship is false worship and we are worshipping a false God. We have to worship the God declared in the Bible, even if some things in who He is are difficult to understand, or even go against our western sensibilities! God has been revealed in the Scriptures, the 66 books of the Bible. Any other god is a false god!

Our worship of God must be informed worship. If that worship is informed by the entertainment value of the singing, or how we feel when we worship in song, or how happy it makes us feel when we think certain thoughts of God, it could very well be that we are not worshipping the Christian God, Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords! We have to know who we worship, and the truth of who God is can only comes from the Bible. The Bible is the only sufficient, trusted source of who God is.

Back in June 2006 I wrote:
“In all of the theology preached from church pulpits today--even by those claiming to be evangelical (whatever that means today, who knows)--Jesus has been recreated in the image of its own peculiar interpretive devices. How many in the church would recognise Jesus if He stepped into our churches today? I would rather not guess at that percentage. It might just be too scary.

“Many churches simply do not preach the whole counsel of God when it comes to the nature of God Himself. Rather, they are preaching only the parts they like and avoiding the "unlikeable" parts like the plague!

“Many of these preachers claim to believe that the Bible is inerrant and that it is wholly the word of God to us; however, their actions speak louder than words!

“If the church no longer preaches on the "undesireable" attributes of God's nature, but rather preaches the usual modern relativistic god of their own making, then they are no longer preaching the full gospel of God! Does a person that preaches a god like this indeed deserve to be called a Christian? If we do not believe in the full revelation of God as it is given in the Bible, can we rightly claim to believe in and worship the One true God? ”
Who, or what, are you worshipping? Are you worshipping the God of the Bible as revealed in Jesus Christ? Or, have you created a god of your own choosing?

Do we bring glory to God in the way that we worship, or in what we believe about Him? Let your worship be wholly informed by the truth of the Bible!

15-Nov-2010 - Also read STR's Weightier Worship.

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