Monday, October 5, 2015

A Few Thoughts On Worship - Part Three

Some questions may never be answered. Questions like, "how many stars are in the sky?" or "what ever happened to Judge Reinhold?" or "what is a 'Nicki Minaj' and how do we get rid of it?" - but one questions that no one thought would ever be answered will be answered, right here and right now. 

That question is, "will James ever finish even one of his worship blog series'? and the answer is "YES!"

A while back... like so long ago... I'm talking over three years ago, I started a series on worship entitled, "A Few Thoughts On Worship." Well, today, good reader, I will be doing the impossible, the unthinkable... the highly unlikely at the very least - I will be finishing a blog series!

I highly recommend reading the first two entries prior to this one, but you don't have to. But you should... They can be found here: Part One - Part Two

This whole thing began with a quote from A.W. Tozer, which I will once again share.

"Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us."

I shared my initial thoughts on that quote in Part One, then elaborated a bit in Part Two. Below you will read the entirety of the remainder of my thoughts on this subject, and there's a surprise twist ending that would make M. Night Shyamalan go, "dude! What the...?"

Not really, but you should read it anyway, ya slacker! Come on, prove your mom wrong and learn something. 

Along the same line of thought as Tozer was writing, Darlene Zschech comments, "It's so easy to become one who exists to please others, rather than serve others - or to simply please ourselves, forgetting that all we have belongs to the Lord anyway." 

Oh! How true, how tragic and true this has become in my life... How about you, good reader? What do you see when you look in? 

It's odd how our tendency almost seems to naturally move from pleasing God to pleasing others to pleasing self, when once we leave our attention and affection unchecked. It is in our human nature to strive to please the ever-important Self. It is also in our nature, as I am sure you will agree, to seek to please others; to work tirelessly to sustain the approval of those around us. And nowhere in ministry can this be more ubiquitous than in worship ministry.

How much of what we do on stage Sunday morning, or in preparation for that time, can be classified as "pleasing others," or preparing to do so? 

So, the desire to please self and please others comes quite naturally. Conversely, the desire to simply please God - not to gain His approval or favor, nor to appease for our wrongs, but simply to bring Him joy, for Him, not us - is one that comes only as a response to a revelation of His tremendous, unmerited love for us.

We love Him because He first loved us, commending that love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners - dead in our sins - He died for us. His kindness, not the fear of hell or the desire for heaven, but His kindness in rescuing us from hell and offering us heaven, leads us to turn away from our sins and toward Him in humble gratitude; in worship.

When it comes right down to it, the packaging (the genre or style of worship music) matters little. It is what is contained in that package which truly matters. Worship music is a vessel for praising and worshiping God; for expressing love and gratitude and devotion to the One who matters most of all - Jesus Christ, the one from the previous paragraph who said that no man has any greater love than he who lays his life down for his friends, then went and died for those who were at enmity with Him. Is our worship music, the whole package; from set selection to arrangement, to dynamics and style and genre, to the band, the stage, the lyrics presentation, and everything else; is it full of love for and gratefulness to Christ?

I believe that the complete lack of direction as to style of worship in the Bible is purposeful, and that purpose is to allow people from every ethnos, every tribe and tongue, to express their worship to God in all of the wondrous diversity He ordained, without anyone complaining that someone isn't doing it right. Sure, that happens plenty (we have all seen this! more hymns, less hymns, more Hillsong, less Crowder, more piano, less drums, etc.), but that is not the way it is supposed to be.

Worship sung to God can be CCM or country or modern praise and worship or classical or circa 1980's Maranatha or rap or reggae or whatever genre you can think of, but what it cannot be, what it can never be is devoid of a deep love for Christ; a love which is louder than the style in which it is sung.

Hallelujah! What a Savior we have! Don't lose worshiping Him inside the venue designed specifically for that purpose. Worship is not a genre; it is a descriptor of what is taking place in the heart of the singer. Strive not to please people, but strive to please God by providing a relevant, authentic, unobtrusive environment for His people to glorify Him through song.

With that, I bring this series to an end. I hope you were uplifted, encouraged, edified, and entertained (totally missed an opportunity for an entirely alliterative string of words...)

So, until next time, peace, love, and a third thing. 

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