Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Worship


I think more than anything, I am deeply grieved when I see people using worship as a way to try to manipulate people or control God.

We are routinely taught to believe that we can know the heart of God through worshipping Him. Nothing is more demoralizing then watching a group of people who have little or no intimate knowledge of the true heart of God, as they try their best to worship Him in via ritual.

For very many years I have been troubled when in corporate "worship" services. It didn't seem to matter whether in a small group of 10 or a large group of 10,000. It didn't seem to matter whether I was in a group of very consertative people singing old 200 year old hymns or a charismatic group seing just modern chorus's.

I am troubled by the whole concept of worship. Why do we do it? Is it what God wants us to do? Why does it seem so important in evangelical and liturical groups? What NT teaching prescribes what we do today?

To be perfectly honest I can think of nothing more boring than an eternity spent in "worship". In fact the half hour long song services I used to participate in were excruciating to me. Even getting past a "church building", pews, stained glass, the whole concept of a santuary and all the other religious finery I have issues regarding utilizing a worship team and leader whose job it seems is to manipulate your body and mind for some purpose. I have the distinct feeling of being manipulated and controlled. We are commanded to sing, to sing louder, to stand, to sit, to clap, to raise our arms, to close our eyes, to bow.

Many worship team leaders seem to enjoy making you stand for throughout most of their 30 - 60 minute performance. Only the elderly or infirm are excused and permitted to sit. Why is it called worship when we are corporately being contorted in various body postures and uttering silly rhymes?

Worship is individual and intimate, not corporate and controlled. So often it seems the worship "team" is performing. The attention is focused on them and what they are doing, not on knowing God. How many would want to be on the worship team if they were set up behind the congregation instead of in front of it? Why do we need to be directed in worship at all? Why isn't there just the freedom to share in whatever way we feel the Sprirt leads us. There is no freedom to worship when there is a leader up front directing when to stand and sit and sing. There is no freedom to worship when there is a published order of service. There is no freedom to worship when we are seated in such a manner as to separate us one from another and ensureing that eye contact is not even possible . There is no freedom to worship when we are forced to focus our attention to an elevated spot or person.

I worship all week, day and night. I would relish a time to meet and freely share my knowing of God and His love for me. Worship is simply my intimate relationship with my friend. A friend who would likely be embarrassed for those who think that by rhyming words and lifting hands once a week will somehow fulfill some religious requirement.

There is nothing wrong with getting together and singing songs but don't define that as the end all and be all to worship. So often it is nothing more than a dead religious ritual. At worst it is idolaltry , worshiping worship and at best it is a cheap subsitute for relationship, both with God and each other. I fear more often then not it is artificial. I have seen and heard the "fake it tell you make it" mentality many times.

Some people seem to be caught up in a "spiritual" trance, raised hands, standing when others are seated, seemingly disconnected from reality. With the ability to turn it on and off in an instant. If it is real, then bless them. If it is forced, fake or habit then they should cease the behaviour. I would ask them if they ever exhibit this behavior outside of a corporate "worship service", if not then I would question its authenticity and fear it is done more for getting attention then in yielding to the Spirit.

If the spiritual highlight of your week is the worship service or the time when you feel "closest" to God then there is something wrong with your relationship with God.

Most "churches" have a statement of faith or beliefs. Here is mine:

1. God loves everyone unconditionally.
2. We are to love others like God loves us.

Act and react to everything based on those beliefs.

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