This Sunday, our friend Mark shared about his heart for worship, and I really appreciated how well his thoughts combined with what I’ve been learning about worship over the past several months. (In fact, I found a couple great tidbits to include in my talk tomorrow morning at Bible study!)
He opened with a discussion about the chicken sandwich (which reminded me of my recent video-sharing post), as it relates to a free-market economy. In a free market, we can consume (or not) based upon our preferences. Chicken sandwiches are sold in the free-market, and you can find and consume any variety of chicken sandwich based upon your preference – for grilled or fried, fast food or fancy, with extra ingredients or just plain and simple. In the same way, we’ve begun to view church in a similar fashion. We choose our church and become involved (or not) in its activities based upon our preferences – for traditional or contemporary music, for suits and dresses or jeans, and powerpoint presentations and outlines or dramatic, emotional orators. In this day and in this country, we can find a church that meets most – if not all – of our preferences.
And it’s not that those preferences are right or wrong. They’re just preferences. But in the same way, we can judge others (or ourselves) by our preferences. Raising my hands during singing does not make me more holy or closer to God. Detailed outlines do not mean that I am learning more.
Ultimately, worship is about ascribing positions. The object of worship is placed high and lifted up. Above the worshipers. In a place of honor, authority, and glory. The worshipers are placed in a position of submission, surrender, and sacrifice. You might even visualize the worshiper in a bowing or physically lowered position. So as Christians, we realize that God is the one high and lifted up. We see him up on the throne, with his train filling the temple. We raise him up as the center of the universe. And we see ourselves as bowing before him. Smaller than we thought we were. Not the center of the universe.
Then Mark made a delineation between worship and praise. Worship is related to positions. Praise is the outward expression of a worshiping heart. Praise is our music, our words, our actions, our behaviors . . . that demonstrate and point to what we worship.
So today – and this week – I’m continuing to consider how I need to refocus my worship. Check exactly what I’m worshiping. And then finding new ways to praise The One whom I should worship.
How about you?