As pastor at Chicago's Jesus people USA and the frontman for the Resurrection Band, GLENN KAISER here gives us his thoughts on worship.
One of the most exciting and edifying things to happen in the larger church in the past twenty years is the interest and growth in worship.
Much has been written, taught and discussed about this wondrous area of the Christian life, and I have truly enjoyed most of what I have heard. Books, tapes, conferences and comments by a host of Christian leaders have contributed to more biblical and satisfying worship. For all of this, we must give thanks to God!
Of course when we think of worship, we think not only of gatherings with other believers but also moments of intimacy with only God and ourselves present. Worshiping in "spirit and truth", in silence, with song, as we meditate on the words of scripture, with prayer, in various physical positions, with eyes open or closed, in reverence, with great joy and laughter or in complete repentance. All of these have clear biblical basis.
But are there things we must be cautious of with regard to worship? Certainly.
If we don't discipline our mind and allow Jesus to take our thoughts captive to Himself, we may find ourselves consciously "a million miles away" from true worship. If we aren't eating properly (unless in a time of fasting) or getting enough sleep, we can find ourselves un-attentive to the voice of the Lord. In such a state, we may entertain thoughts that come more from self or Satan than from God, subtle deceptions can enter into the moment, and this is not of course, worship.
Our emotions can be given too much reign to the point that they and not God are doing the "moving" of our mouths, bodies and lives. Emotions are surely a part of biblical worship (there are many verses in the word that speak to this) but they must not take precedent over Truth. Nor can emotions be entirely trusted as THE central factor of the worship experience. Always the centrality of what the Bible clearly and contextually says must rule the moment, for the Holy Spirit will never oppose His own Word in the Book.
All of us can be fickle as to what-we want in an experience, but most of us seem to slide toward the new or stubbornly cling to the old - not because one or the other is more biblical, nor led of the Spirit, but rather for the sake of personal security and comfort. This, as well as the "fickle factor" - wanting change for change's sake - can cause us to have third - rate worship times.
With the increase in worship styles, gatherings large and small that utilise the broader arts, etc., some believers have chosen to either leave or join a church on that very basis. As central as worship is (absolutely!), it is the Person of God and not the form or format or liturgy of an assembly of Christians that will dictate my own movements, and I trust yours also!
There are some who focus more on worship than on the ultimate object of our worship: The Lord Himself. "Worshiping worship" was no more the habit of Jesus than it can be of His followers.
There are those who worship for the "feeling" of His touch (emotional or sense of his physical presence), and while I enjoy and experience this often, I do not and cannot put my trust in these alone. Perhaps one reason that some have lost their balance with regard to deeply relevant AND joy - filled, thankful worship experience can be found right there.
There are also those who sit in a desert of silence while in a worship gathering, more observers of others worship than worshippers of God. This is totally understandable if one isn't a believer, but to remain aloof except on the basis of either scripturally disagreeing with practices or because one simply hasn't experienced "that sort of worship" tells one that something is wrong with oneself. Or again, it may be a problem of focus.
The Christian life entails a great deal, and worship is such a large thing that it includes most and in another sense, all of it. Yet, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of worship. God has given us worship as a means of communion and focus on Himself, not on ourselves.
I would echo the words of A.W. Tozer that "worship is the missing jewel of the church". In this particular time, it is not as missing as it has been in the past. Praise God!
May God be the focus, goal, intent, and motive of what we do in terms of worship. God... not you or I!The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all articles by Glenn Kaiser