OK, true confession time. I watched “American Idol.” Not recently, mostly in the early years. Some performers caused me to cringe and almost resurrected my desire to be a rock star—almost. Others I grew to appreciate, and enjoy hearing their music on the radio or Pandora. However, the premise of the show stimulated some thoughts. If an idol represents ultimate value, then what is America’s idol? Or, more specifically, might the American church, at times, have an idol we value more than God?
Here’s my take, feel free to agree or not. Ironically, we may easily worship worship. At its heart, worship expresses how we adore God. He’s most important. Central, at the core of our priorities and values and thoughts and action. The word “worship” means worthiness—that God has more worth than anything else. The most common Greek and Hebrew words mean to bow, to kneel, or to acknowledge God’s superiority. Another Greek word, liturgy in English, doesn’t mean the order of the service, but “the work of the people.” We do things in worship, like sing praises, study his word, give our resources, to show God’s worth and glory. When people encounter God, or see Jesus as he was, they get filled with awe and fall to their feet. How frequently does that occur in our typical worship?
Too often we put our ultimate value on what God does for us, in how he meets our needs and desires. So, subconsciously, what goal do we most have? To benefit ourselves. Is God our God, or is it what he does for us in worship? Think about these issues. If we most worship to get our spiritual needs met, what do we most value? If we want to be moved emotionally, do we honor God in that? If the style must fit our preferences, who’s in charge?
Ironically, receiving benefits in worship is OK! But too often we reverse the purpose and the results. Biblically, the purpose of worship is to express our adoration of God, which has the result of changing us. But perhaps, just perhaps, when we switch the order, can we commit idolatry?
Think of biblical worship as a performance, with the congregation as the actors, the upfront leaders and backstage hands as the crew to help them, and all done for the benefit of the audience, God. In the real world, do actors and backstage personnel enjoy and benefit from their work? Of course! But who do they most want to please? The audience. So will we, the performing congregation, be blessed when we adore God? Absolutely. And, ironically, aligning with God in biblical worship will bring far better benefits that when we focus on them. Kinda reminds me of Jesus saying if we save our lives we’ll lose them, but if we lose them we’ll find them. Hmmm.
Kick Starting the Application
Think carefully about what you most want to do in worship, perhaps subconsciously. Do the thoughts above make you evaluate your purposes more? As imperfect humans, we’ll all be a mix, of worshipping to adore God and wanting to meet our spiritual needs. For you, what ratio is most typical? Are you satisfied with that? How might reading this week’s blog entry change what you do next time in worship?