Monday, 07 May 2012
Worship leaders sometimes struggle to keep their hearts humble. God has asked them to lead His people into to worship, to be the lead worshiper. For six days they prepare their hearts, practice and organize with the band. Sunday comes fast and another and another.
Keeping their hearts humble and on Christ is not always easy, they have the troubles of the world, and church is not always a safe haven. It's not all their fault; the church has turned them into 'Sunday Superstars' -- stage, lights, loud instruments, big sound system. If it's a big church, add video cameras to the mix. If you take out the lyrical content we are left with ingredients of your basic rock show.
When did worship become entertainment?
There is a story in the old testament that address worship. David has just been anointed King over Israel. He has established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the center and heart of the nation -- this is David's home. He gathers 30,000 of his men to escort The Ark of The Covenant to Jerusalem. They don't follow the law of Moses and, instead of having priest carry the ark on their shoulders with wooden poles, they put it on a cart and have oxen pull it.
The sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart under the sound of harps, tambourines, cymbals and other instruments as David and all 30,000 were celebrating the Lord with all their might in song. One of the oxen stumbles. The Ark begins to fall and Uzzah takes hold of it, God strikes him dead at that very moment.
Silence falls on their worship. David is angry and confused at first, but he soon understands they have made a mistake and refuses to move the Ark into Jerusalem. He leaves the ark with a Levite by the name of Obed-edom's and the Lord blessed that house and family.
The Ark represents God's presence, and the first act from the established King David is to bring the Ark home -- such a contrast when compared to Saul who simply ignored the Ark in his reign as King. What matters more than doing the right thing? Doing it the right way. David's heart is in the right place. He wants God in the center, but David's want is far from obedient. He worships in disobedience. It's true, how we obey does matter, and our hearts and worship reflect that.
So often what happened to Israel happens in church. When the worship leader strums the first chords, we take God's presence and place it on a cart made up of expensive lighting, entertaining graphics, concert like performances and solos from the band. While self-centered worship songs that focus on "me" and "I" pull this cart, when our version of 'God's presence' is about to fall we embrace it with earnest heartfelt tears. Like David, we can worship with all our might, even have emotional moments filled with celebration without ever entering God's presence.
Maybe you have been to a church like that, where you feel like you are being entertained. Every song has a huge climatic grand finale when the band sustains that last note, drummer goes nuts, guitar solos roar and they all chime in unison on that last chord. Somehow worship has become entertainment and in this an empty act.
The other side is that there are places that simply point to Christ. The worship leader is an ant when compared to the size of the font that voices the words sung to Him. You can hear the hearts sing, the chords come from a humble heart, simple, honest and earnest. We show our hearts to Him rather than put on a show.
Obedience is important for God, but just because we weight obedience does not mean He does. We have a tendency to only obey God on the big things and not on the little things. We can't chose to only obey Him at the end, when we set goals in line with heaven; how we reach them is as important as the goal itself. Here David is worshiping while in disobedience and God will have no part in that.
During the entire reign of King Saul the Ark was never moved -- this shows how different David and Saul were. When David tries to move the Ark, it has disastrous consequences, but when David realizes his mistake he stops, and he will remedy this very soon. Are we like Saul with an Ark-less empty act of worship? Or are we like David, trying, failing, learning how to place our hearts before God?
The Ark had stayed in the home Abinadab for over forty years. His sons Uzzah and Ahio had a long history with the Ark, yet there was no reverence in Uzzah's heart towards God's presence. While Obed-edom, whom David entrusted the Ark to, opened his heart, his house and was in complete reverence, and he welcomed the Ark and was blessed by it's presence.
Uzzah holding on to the Ark is the same as an unbeliever claiming Christ without belief -- eternal death. Obed-edom is the believer who welcomes Christ in his heart, his home and is blessed by it's presence -- his soul has eternal life.
Worship is more than a song and obedience is more than a goal. You can't have one without the other.
Do you think that worship has become more like entertainment? Is there a place in Christianity for churches who prefer the more concert-like atmosphere? Have you seen disobedience in the way that some approach worship?