Unfortunately, we have all seen it happen... WORSHIP WARS. Those times within the church body where there is “Not enough choruses” or “Not enough hymns” or “The music is too loud” or “The music is not loud enough” or “We sing too many songs”, etc, etc... I think you get the picture. It is when the reality in one’s life moves from worshipping Jesus Christ to WORSHIPPING WORSHIP.
The problem with our western worship is that we tend to connect worship with an experience or a time in our life. It is the “I remember when...” moments in our personal experience that sometimes clouds the reality of what worship should really truly be.
I recently heard of a church split, where a small group of people decided to leave the church that they had attended for many years, and “plant” a new church in town... all because the old church did not sing enough hymns. It is all pretty sad.
It is amazing how we miss the point of worship. We tend to love worship more than we love God. We talk about how our worship being upbeat with lights and professionalism. We designate our church as the one with or without an organ or hymnals. We pride ourselves with the more professional sounding bands, lights and sound equipment. And when we gather with our friends and neighbors... we end up talking more about our worship than we do our God.
I’ve shared this story before, but I truly believe it is fitting for this article. Years ago, my grandmother attended a church that replaced all their hymnals with new ones. However, the new ones included some of the new choruses of the day. Songs like, “This is the Day” and “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”. My grandmother became so upset that she actually left the church for 3 months. She believed that adding these new, contemporary songs to the hymnal was “sacrilegious”.
One day, I took my guitar over to my grandmother’s house and shared with her a song I had written. While I was singing the song too her, she began to cry. It wasn’t a tear-jeerer kind of song, so I asked her if she was okay. She replied, “How dare I tell God who He can anoint and who He can’t.” She said, “One of these days, your song might be in a hymnal somewhere”. Well... my song never made it into a hymnal, but my grandmother went back to church, a totally different worshipper. She did not care if they sung hymns or choruses. If she didn’t know the song, I remember her saying, “Lord, let these words be my words of praise to You.”
C.S. Lewis once said, "The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only cam
e through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of the tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."
So... at Connections Community Church, we will continue to worship... not hymns or choruses, or a book, or a band. We will continue to worship, because we are gathering together to worship God and God alone... nothing less than that. We are not worshipping our past experiences, but we are worshipping our present and forever faithful God.
So the question is... are you worshipping worship or are your worshipping God?