Modern Christian worship… what is it?
Psalm 149:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. 4 For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
Well, there really isn’t a definition. But there are many opinions!
Today’s “contemporary” churches have ideas as to what worship is, as do the more traditional churches. Everyone has their ideas, preferences and opinions as to what “worship” really is. But let’s talk about all of these and see what kind of conclusion we come to.
Let me state right up front that I absolutely love music. I believe music is a vehicle that God can use to allow His spirit to flow and for His presence to be felt in a place. It doesn’t necessarily have to be music of the “Hillsongs genre”, which is what so many people think of when they think of modern worship music.
God can use and move through so many different kinds of music. It is only man who creates limitations, boundaries and barriers. Some may say that music with drums in it can’t possibly be used by God, but there can be rhythms played on so many different kinds of drums and God can be worshiped to the beat of these drums with no other accompanying instruments.
Some people might think that music played on a piano is “the only acceptable music” that God can be worshiped with, believing that anything louder or more rowdy than this is evil, demonic or devil-inspired. This is pure nonsense and only shows how shallow some people can really be when it comes to knowing who God is and what He prefers.
I mean, let’s face it. Pianos, drums, guitars, flutes, trumpets, cymbals and so many other musical instruments are just that; instruments. They are not inherently good or evil. They can be used for either, but they themselves are not good or evil. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise is so very misinformed.
Aside from so many musical styles, tastes and preferences, I want to talk about what worship is and what it isn’t. Standing with others and raising our hands doesn’t immediately mean that we are worshiping God.
As with the rest of our walk with God, it’s not at all about the outward actions or outward appearance. It’s all about the heart… what’s really in there and why we do what we do. We can lift our hands to God “in praise” while our heart is far from Him.
On the other hand, we can throw ourselves flat out on the floor, while nobody else is around, laying at his feet and not saying a thing and worship Him. No music, coaxing or leading is required on the part of anyone else. We just worship Him with what’s in our heart.
As I said, I absolutely love music, and this would apply to so many different styles or genres. And I know that it can be a powerful tool to lead people into the presence of God. But I know that music is not required to worship Him. Does it help? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes it can be a distraction.
It can also be a mask that covers so many other things. It can take a local church that’s floundering in so many other ways and cause it to appear as though everything is good and in order and moving forward for the kingdom of God. A facade at the very best.
Modern worship has also become an “addiction” for many of today’s church goers and church leaders, causing people to think that it has to be done this way in order for God to show up or to move. This has caused it to become such a focal point that some people have completely forgotten how to worship God without it.
This has caused a stagnation to set in, causing believers to think that this kind of setting and atmosphere is an absolute requirement for a church to be “good” or “on track”. This is a falsehood and it is leading people into ritualism without them even realizing it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have churches and believers that are very adamant about the fact that in order for music to be pleasing to God, it has to be played soft and slow, with no chance of people “getting rowdy” or being loud. This is another lie that has held people captive and kept them from truly “letting loose” and worshiping God with all of their heart.
Instead, they believe that worship is done “in quiet admiration”, in a way that is dignified and controlled. Excuse me, but didn’t David dance in the streets to the point where even his wife was embarrased?
2 Samuel 6:14-16 (NKJV) 14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
Despite all of his faults, David knew how to worship God. He didn’t care what others thought. He just knew that God was worthy of his worship and praise, so he worshiped Him with all of his might. We should all have a heart like David!
Now, does this mean that we should all go crazy and dance to the point where our clothing is about to fall off? Of course not. There is a time and a place for everything. There will be times when we worship God loudly and jubilantly. But there will be other times when we worship Him in quiet reverence. We have to let God’s spirit lead us!
So let me wrap this up by saying this; Worship comes from the heart. It is spontaneous, not scripted or packaged. It does not have to follow a certain format and it doesn’t require a certain kind of instrument or instruments in order to be pleasing to God. Worship should never be put in a box by human opinion or human intellect.
Worship should never be done ritualistically. It should flow freely, led by the spirit of God. It should flow from our heart in a way that causes us to want to pour ourselves out before God.
Worship is not done based on our emotions or how we feel at any given moment, although it may cause us to display our emotions.
Worship should be pure, between us and our Creator, unhindered by outside influences, allowing us to commune with God and show our love to Him.
Pastor Curt & Pastor Ellie