Worship always centers our attention upon God.
Christ’s followers worship God on a regular basis. Sometimes we worship in personal ways; often we worship corporately. The heart of worship centers our attention on God: who He is, how Scripture describes Him, and how He relates to His creation. We sing, praise, pray, and wait as we focus our attention on the One who made us all. Then, we offer ourselves to Him as a further act of worship.
I think most of us agree in principle with this understanding of worship. However, some of Christ’s followers disagree, as illustrated by daily practices and perspectives. Let me explain.
I know Christian friends who have stopped attending certain churches because they did not prefer the selection of songs or the flow of the worship service. Our culture has conditioned us to expect complete control of activities based on our personal preferences.
We set up play lists on our electronic music devices. We customize our personal preferences in music on internet and satellite music stations. If we don’t like a particular song, we simply hit the thumbs-down icon; it will never play on our device again. Therefore, some believers seek communities of faith that exclusively sing songs from their personal play lists or worship exactly as they wish.
We must remember that the audience for our worship is God, not us!
I listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio whenever I travel in my car. I have observed a disturbing trend over the past several years. I first noticed it when I asked of each song: “Is the focus of this song about God or me?” An alarming number of songs on Christian radio today focus on me: my feelings, my situation, my needs, my perspective on life, my tendency to fail…on and on the list goes as I analyze my place in life and what God should do to help me in my situation. Certainly, music lyrics should explore the ways God reaches out to meet us at the point of our need. However, when focusing our attention on worship, it’s not about me. It’s about Him!
Perhaps the most difficult component of meaningful worship involves waiting. But, wait we must. We should never approach worship with an order of service that prescribes every minute of believers’ time together. We must make room for God to move among us: to speak as He wants to speak, to direct as He wants to direct. God has always had ways of revealing God’s self to His children as they wait before Him in a spirit of submission and worship.
I have some great childhood memories of attending corporate worship services with my family. We came to each service with anticipation. What is God going to do among us today? Who is He going to save? Who is He going to sanctify? Who is He going to touch in ways they will talk about for years? We came to worship with expectation as we gathered in the presence of God.
Much has changed over the years in our world. But, the needs of the human heart have not changed. They are the same as they have always been, because God gave every one of us a restless heart for Him. Only when we gather to worship, honor, and adore Him do we sense the deepest needs of our hearts met. As we think together about worship, remember the heart of worship always centers our attention upon God.
Frank M. Moore is editor-in-chief of Holiness Today.
Holiness Today, Nov/Dec 2017