I was recently at a place called “church” with an understanding of having “church” and left with the experience of being “churched.” Now that’s buzz language in most churches I know to describe a good time. In other words, I got my “praise” on – feet tapping, arm waving, singing and screaming to the top of my lungs. I was raised in a traditional Pentecostal environment that emphasized emotional outbursts over training and education. Not that any definition of worship can actually define how we interact with God or how our own individual experiences shape us, the real goal is that we get close to God.
Worship is one of those strange habits in the Christian church world that believers confess to doing but rarely perfect. We even compare, criticize, and condemn who and how others do it. In fact, most people today are so far removed from real worship that we define it as entertainment and fun. On the other hand, some are so stiff in ritualism that they miss the essence of worship for the pattern of structure and order. It is true the real expression of worship is praise and how that praise is expressed becomes controversial and problematic from decade to decade and from culture to environment.
This dilemma is not new though. The concept of worship has been one of controversy in the Christian community since the disciples emerged from the Upper Room. We are as divided over worship as we are over doctrine. In fact, worship has gotten so systematized in America that we offer people a menu of choices like a restaurant. Instead of fighting over styles today we just blend a choice of options – Traditional, Modern, or Contemporary. Take your choice and sit and enjoy the sideshow of worship being focused on your taste instead of God’s glory. So we divide over the day, style, music, and prayer language in our worship services.
The methodology of worship has dominated the Christian Church world as we are more focused on how we express our worship (my way) than how it is regulated to please God. What worship should accomplish is to get us into God’s presence. The purpose of worship in the body of Christ is not to appease God and make one feel good and enjoy all the blessings of prosperity. No it is to honor the Father through Jesus Christ as our mediator with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Defining worship is not easy because many of us have preconceived notions about the subject. So whether one defines it from the Hebrew and Greek or just develops some much needed principles for discussion, the task is difficult. Worship is both private and public. It is communication between you and God on a personal level for enrichment and it is the practice of “offerings” on a corporate level with benefits. But you cannot effectively worship until you realize that God is creator, redeemer, and sustainer of your very existence. This will lead to a lifetime of gratitude and joy for the worshipper.
I don’t want to ignore the fact that Satan really doesn’t want one to worship God either. So between our own selfish natures and demonic influences we are struggling to maintain a worship atmosphere. An atmosphere of power that must propel us beyond icons and monuments that trap us into the now; to the freshness of God’s Glory filling the earth with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus pointed out three misconceptions regarding worship to the woman at the well in John 4:21-24.
(1) Jesus began with her comprehension of what she practiced (knowledge) as “worship.” That is the problem, many of us are trapped in traditions that were never fully explained or validated as scriptural or biblical. It is because we don’t take the time to study and research for ourselves.
(2) Jesus then redefined the location of worship (the place) from a geographical structure to a supernatural reality. His attempt was to release one from the visible reality of a manifestation of God’s Glory; and then transporting them to a faith-walk imprinting the presence of God in our minds. We have gotten so accustomed to physical structures that reflect worship (i.e. tabernacles, temples, sanctuaries, and churches); and mark time and space to capture the Glory, we are in essence lost in our own inventions.
(3) Jesus then moved to the pattern of worship (Spirit and Truth). We must journey between the visible to the invisible and back again. In other words, our worship must invoke the presence of God as we assure ourselves that our prayer language is reaching the Throne Room. We really can’t have one without the other. The Holy Spirit is activated by the personification of Truth in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We need a new breed of worship leaders that understand this mandate. New leaders who are not making news headlines, but delivering the Good News of the kingdom; Honest leaders that will take the time to sanctify themselves to and for God in this hour; Charismatic leaders that are not speaking for God (prophets) but speaking to God (priests) regarding the sins of nations, governments, and churches.
Finally, we need true intercession in this hour, warfare prayer that restores and refreshes the supernatural power of God in the earth. Not by a troop of gossiping prayer bands, but a worship leader who can both discern and command the conflict and calm the storms of life. This one will command few, but affect many.