A couple of weeks ago I was posed with an interesting question. How can wanting to worship God be bad?This question was in the context of a discussion primarily about corporate worship, but I believe the response Im about to give can apply to other types of worship.
First of all, I have to say that I do believe desiring corporate worship can be a negative thing, but please read to the end before you make any judgements on that statement! I hope that the vast majority of the time wanting to be involved in corporate worship is God honouring and good, but sadly this is not always the case.
So how can desiring to worship be bad? Well lets be clear first that it is not evil to want to worship God. The problem lies in the magnitude of our desire. As Calvin says, The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.
This seems like a rather odd thing to suggest when applied specifically to worshipping God, so perhaps some context will help. Imagine you turn up for Church late and as you arrive the sermon is just beginning, you have missed all of the music. Then after the service is over youre chatting with some friends and one of them mentions how great the worship time was, how powerfully God was speaking to the congregation.
There are a few ways you could react to this. You could be overwhelmed with joy for them, praising God because he his goodness. You could be thankful for the blessing God has poured over your friend and the rest of the Church. Alternatively, you could be bitter and angry because you werent there. You could be resentful that this conversation is happening, and jealous of your friend for having such a great morning.
The desire to worship is no bad thing, but if you want it so much that it twists your heart then it has become an idol. In my experience, I can turn pretty much anything into an idol somehow, no matter how good it is to begin with. There is very little that is safe from the corruption of my heart.
Over the past couple of years I have had the privelidge of learning to play the guitar, and also leading worship in my home group and at the CU occasionally. I am the first to admit that I am very poor at this, my guitar playing is weak at best, and I don’t think I am great at leading worship. One of the areas I struggle with the most though is not the actual leading, but preparing before, especially choosing which songs to use.
In my Church we have a folder currently with a little over 30 songs in it, which we are steadily expanding. The worship team was only put together recently and is still very much a work in progress, but Mark who has taken charge is doing a great job. This makes life much easier in some ways, and much more difficult in others. Having a specific set of songs to choose from certainly makes the preparation much quicker, not having to trawl through song books and decide between two songs which deal with the same subject in the same tone is nice. It is also much more difficult because 30 songs is quite restrictive, and I am looking forward to that number increasing.
The CU context however is a completely different story. I am free to pick any song at all, and so the selection process is generally longer. I also try to pick a range of styles and tones of music to cater for the diversity in the CU. The biggest problem I have then is in ensuring that the music makes sense. It would be easy to pick out my favourites, or more likely the ones that are easiest to play. This generally results in a mish mash of worship songs with such differing themes that the worship doesn’t really make sense, there is no flow.
If you lead worship, how do you pick your songs? Is your main focus on the skill involved in playing and leading, or the songs themselves and how the worship will flow (not just within the songs, but in the context of the rest of the meeting as well).
I have chosen to spend some of my time this term studying the Biblical view of Men and Women. I chose to look at this area for a number of reasons, the main one being that it is a serious area of contention in the western Church today and as such I wanted to be sure of my views on the matter and more importantly sure that my views agree with the Bible. I also chose to study manhood and womanhood because I am a Christian guy, and as such the Bibles definition of a man applies to me and I should seek to be the kind of man that the Bible says I should be. This is I think especially important in todays western Church climate where there are many more women in Church and masculinity is under attack from the culture around us.
This morning I listened to a great sermon on Ephesians 5:15-33 by Russell D. Moore (pick it up here) in which I was reminded of something really essential that I often forget. A large part of what Moore had to say was that we often read passages like this and think “ah, so Christ’s relationship to the Church is a picture of what marriage should be like”. The reality is that Paul is saying something very different, he is in fact saying something more like “marriage is a picture of what Christ and the Church are like”.
This shift in focus from God picturing life for us to us picturing God for others is an immense thing. We go from a self centered perspective of asking God how he can help our situations to a totally outward looking evangelistic perspective of our lives. When we think like this, the real question is no longer “What can you do for me God?”, but instead we ask “How can I show you to others God?”.
I am reminded of a great song by Tree63 which sets out not only this wonderful attitude towards God, but clearly explains why this is an appropriate attitude if we have understood the gospel!
Look what You’ve done
Look what You’ve done for me
Your blood has set me free
Jesus my Lord look what You’ve done for me
I haven’t been the same
Ever since that day I called Your name
Yahweh Look What You’ve done for me
What can I do for You my Lord?
I want You to know my heart is Yours
It’s not a question of what You can do for me
But what can I do for You my Lord?
Up to Your cross I crawled
Now I am standing teen feet tall
Jesus my saviour look what You’ve done for me
Free at last I’m free
I owe You my life completely
Yahweh look what You’ve done for me