For many months now, God has been stirring my heart, revealing himself and asking me to truly worship him — at church. What a concept.
The truth is, I’ve been a worshiper for years. Being a worshiper simply means you recognize who God is. You meditate on his attributes, his great holiness, faithfulness and love (to name my top three) and as you do, you begin to see yourself appropriately by comparison.
Worship is extremely humbling and extremely satisfying. When you find yourself lost in pure worship to God, everything else, including thoughts of self, melts away and he is all there is. Fulfillment comes because you were created for this very thing.
The other truth is, for years I mostly worshiped outside of my church gatherings. Alone in my car, praise in the shower, at Christian concerts or conferences, FREEDOM to worship seemed much easier to find. But put me in a Sunday service at church and forget about it. Too distracted and too well trained.
God has clearly shown me how messed up my worship was and has also opened my eyes to the reality that I’m far from alone.
There are countless articles and opinions out there on “what’s wrong with the church.” Well, I’ll throw my hat in the ring with this statement: Churches are busy dragging people into serving a God they do not worship.
Church leaders across the land beg for people to help. Please volunteer. Sign up to serve. Please GIVE. “The fields are white for harvest, but the laborers are few!” Why? It’s exhausting and difficult to serve and give to a God you don’t worship.
You may serve others and you may serve your church, but your service won’t last because people disappoint and “burn-out” kicks in. And thus, the cycle of dragging people in and out of service in the church continues.
Every time I find examples of service and giving in Scripture it comes after an encounter with God where he has been magnified and worshiped. I believe if a church is not bearing fruit that looks a lot like people wanting to serve and people freely giving, the issue is worship. Always worship.
I realize my claim that most church-goers are not worshiping God is a rather judgmental statement. How can I know whether or not someone is worshiping God? Well, I can’t. However, I think I can know when someone is not.
You’re not worshiping God when you are focused on self.
You’re not worshiping God when you are distracted by what other people think of you.
You’re not worshiping God when you are angry and harboring bitterness against someone else.
You’re not worshiping God when you have that sour, mean look on your face. Sorry, but you’re not.
It’s easy to recognize fake worship, because I’ve been guilty of it myself.
Week after week, thousands of Christians enter church buildings and attend WORSHIP services where worship never happens. Sure, there is music and prayer and even preaching, but the majority of attendees half-heartedly sing — if they sing at all — giving little to no thought to the words and worse, little to no thought to God. They won’t pick up a Bible and look at the preaching text. And they whine about the sermon. Why are we going to church?!
The scene found in 2 Chronicles chapter 29 is a picture of worship. The people had been restored to a right relationship with God, their hearts were turned toward Him and they worshiped. There were instruments (plural), singers (thousands) and LOUD music for DAYS. They fell on their faces in humility before God and truly worshiped Him. There was no discussion about who was leading, what style would please the most ears, what the song list was or how many songs should be played.
Those things don’t matter when the throne of God Almighty is the focus.
It was a scene of uninhibited joy and praise before the Lord. Their focus was on a powerful and holy God who had rescued them from their sin when he could have crushed them. They were full of gratitude for God’s mercy and grace. After they worshiped, they brought in an abundance of gifts to the Lord, so many that King Hezekiah needed more storehouses built to hold what the people gave. They gave sacrificially. They wanted to.
Out of hearts of worship came hearts of service and giving. It was the same in the New Testament churches.
So what’s our problem? Here are three points to consider:
- 1. We don’t worship because we don’t understand who God is. The church needs to be discipled. We need to learn Scripture and we need to learn them alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. God has revealed himself to us through His Word and creation.
- 2. We don’t worship because we don’t accept that we were made for worship. Hello? Nothing else on this planet satisfies and fulfills the human soul but worship to the creator God. However, we spend the majority of our time believing we were made for something or someone else.
- 3. And the most frustrating of all — is that often we (church attendees) don’t worship because we don’t think we are supposed to. It’s not appropriate in our churches to be filled with the Spirit, to weep, to raise our hands, to shout, to speak praise or to sing at the top of our lungs. (Perhaps even more so if you are female.) We are far too dignified. Do we see our leaders (pastors and deacons and elders and teachers) worshiping God with uninhibited praise and joy before the Lord? Um, no.
We see them stuck in tradition or so afraid to let go and be free themselves, we don’t know what to do. We are afraid to embrace worship. We quench the Spirit for the sake of everyone else’s comfort and we keep worship locked down inside us where we’ve been trained to believe it belongs. Ask around. You’ll learn this is true.
King Hezekiah led his people in worship. He was an example to his people.
He wasn’t worried about what people thought about the music or the timing.
He cared for his people, but mostly he was busy passionately loving his God. And the king’s worship was contagious.
I love my church. I love the church. It’s just time to let go. It’s time to find freedom in Christ. It’s time to get serious about being disciples who make disciples and about doing the one thing we were created for!
I’m asking God to begin with me.
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. ( John 4:23)