Worship: a rant, a challenge, a reassessment

I've been thinking a lot recently about worship at churches and conferences and how I hate the spectacle that it so often becomes. People raising their hands, people writing songs, people singing songs, people dancing, people closing their eyes, people on their knees - these are all beautiful things but if they don't come from a genuine awe of God and are more concerned with impressing others or trying to look holy then they are corrupt and meaningless and a danger to our relationship with God. Just as catholic symbolism and anglican liturgy can,at times, seem like empty, religious ritualism, so can our charismatic worship routines be just as void.

God is so clear about what he thinks about false worship. Here are just a few verses:

'what sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them but they have told lies about me. they do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead they sit on their couches and wail' (Hosea 7:13-14)

'Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning!...the people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are all meaningless' (Hosea 8:11,13)

'I will not accept your offerings. But my name is honoured by people f other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honour f my name. For my name is great among the nations...but you dishonour my name with your actions' (Malachi 1:11,12)

There's a church here in Milan that took a break from having worship with instruments just so they could realign themselves with what it REALLY means to worship God. What an amazing stand?! How many of us would be willing to be a part of something like that?

The Hebrew word to worship means to serve. So when we say we want to be worshippers we are saying we want to be servants. Servants are humbled before a master. So our approach to worship should emulate that of a humble servant.

I have to challenge this a lot in myself. So many times I find myself questioning my motives, which is probably why my hands are shaking so much as I type this because God has something very clear to say to me, to all of us about how we worship him. How I worship God in the private space of my own bedroom should be how I worship God in a public place. I don't need flashing lights, electric guitars, cracking vocals and jazzy tunes to be brought into presence of God. I don't need to be part of congregational sung worship in order to give him praise.

My spirit boils with discontent at the thought of sung worship becoming an idol in itself; when people respond more to the hype of a new song, a new album or a drum beat than the overpowering grace God shows us everyday.

I've been trying to find other ways to praise God that don't involve singing, clapping and rushing to download the latest Hillsong album. I want to praise God in all areas of my life, in my relationships, in my temperament, in my attitude to my work and my finances. I'm so sick of worship being confined to 30 minutes of carefully chosen, religiously rehearsed, structured singing. How can the spirit move if we hold so tightly to the reigns? I'm so sick of the focus being on the quality of music in the church rather than the quality of it's lifestyle.

So I'm opening up the floor and asking you to join me in my mission to practice new ways of worshipping. Please comment on this post with suggestions and let's encourage each other with other ways of bringing honest offerings to a God that deserves so much Glory.

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