I'm coming back to the heart of worship
It's all about You. It's all about You!
I'm sorry for the thing I've made it.
It's all about You, It's all about You, Jesus.
Much of what is called "worship" in Pentecostal-Charismatic circles has deteriorated into an anthropocentric (human centered) religious exercise that is more concerned with the act of worship than with the object of worship. God is calling His Church to return to a christocentric (Christ-centered) expression of worship that focuses on the object of worship rather than the human act of worship.
Who Is This For?
This was made very real to me some time ago as I sat in a meeting and noted a troubling in my spirit during the praise and worship. Outwardly, everything was great. The musicians and singers were superb. The congregation was enthusiastic and some danced in the aisles while others waved banners. As I prayerfully pondered my experience, the question was posed to my mind, Who is this for? The answer then became clear. This was for them. They were having fun. They enjoyed doing this. They were reveling in their own excellence and feeling good about their expertise in "worship." They were more enamored with their act of worship than with the object of worship.
This experience reminded me of Gods rebuke to Israel for their anthropocentric worship. They too had lost their focus in worship and had become centered on themselves. They were doing the right things, but for the wrong reasons. Through the prophet Zechariah, God said, "During those seventy years of exile when you fasted and mourned, was it really for Me? And even now in your holy festivals, you dont think about Me but only of pleasing yourselves" (Zech. 7:5-6, NLT).
Music, Singing & Dancing
Do Not Equal "Worship"
Do Not Equal "Worship"
One mistake we have made as Spirit-filled believers is equating music and singing with worship. We thus have a time of "worship" before the preaching. Did you know that the great revivals in history did not have "worship teams" and "praise bands?" Frank Bartleman, a participant in the Azusa Street Revival, wrote, "In the beginning in Azusa, we had no musical instruments. In fact, we felt no need for them. There was no place for them in our worship--all was spontaneous." Don't get me wrong! Anointed music can be a wonderful means for expressing worship to God. True worship, however, encompasses all of life as can be seen from the meaning of the word itself.
Worship Encompasses All of Life
"Worship" comes from the old Saxon word weorthscipe meaning "worthship" and referred to any activity utilized to recognize or describe the "worth" of a person or thing to which homage was being paid. Worship is thus synonymous with the whole of a reverent and devoted life. We ascribe "worth" to God by the way we prioritize and live out our lives. Listening to Gods word can be an act of worship as much as singing and dancing. In fact, even hoeing ones garden can be an act of worship, as is illustrated by the following story from the life of Francis of Assisi.
Hoeing Ones Garden Can Be "Worship"
Francis was hoeing his garden one hot afternoon when a friend passing by stopped and posed a question. "Francis," he asked, "What would you do if you knew that at sunset you would be standing in the presence of Jesus Christ?" Francis replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden." Francis answer revealed how that, for him, every act was a sacred act done for the glory of God. Even the hoeing of his garden was an act of worship. We must get beyond the idea that worship is something we do for a half hour on Sunday morning.
Our Life Must Become Integrated
Most Christians have segmented their lives into the sacred and the non-sacred, or secular. When we go to church and lift our hands and sing, that is sacred. But when we are sitting around the dinner table or when we are working at our job that is secular. This dichotomized approach to life has hindered us from becoming true worshippers of God.
To the contrary, we must see all of life as sacred, lived for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. As 1 Cor. 10:31 says, Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the gory of God.
Remember how the Father spoke from heaven at the baptism of Jesus and said, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17)? This was before Jesus had healed a single sick person, cast out a single demon or preached a single sermon. His life had been lived in the carpenter shop, making chairs, tables, plows, etc. Nonetheless, His was a life of worship because everything He did was for the glory and honor of God, and God was well pleased. Question: Are we living all of life for the glory of God--every thought, every word, every deed? That is worship!
We Must Repent For Our Wrong Approach to Worship
The third line in the worship chorus by Matt Redman says, "I'm sorry for the thing I've made it." What have we made it? We have made it a performance--a show. We have made it a religious exercise within a restricted time frame on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. We have shifted the emphasis from the condition of the heart of the worshipper to the expertise of the musicians, singers and dancers. My heart trembles when I think of it, but I am afraid that what we call "worship" is more about us than it is about Him.
Let's Keep It Simple
In Exodus 20:24-25, God instructed Moses that when the children of Israel made an altar on which to offer their sacrifices to Him, it was to be a very, plain altar of earth. If they built an altar of stone, they were not to cut or hew the stones but to merely pile the stones, for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. The altars--the means of their worship--were to be plain and simple. Why?
God was giving guidelines to protect Israel from the human tendency to become enamored with that which is outward and sensory. The means of worship must never eclipse or obscure the object of worship. This does not mean that God puts any premium on ignorance or crudeness in worship. It does mean that He looks on the heart and is not impressed with our pomp and circumstance.
What impresses God? Isaiah 66:2 says, This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Many churches today would do well to dispense, at least for a time, with their elaborate means of worship and emphasize, instead, the inward condition of the heart in worship.
Simplify the means of worship and focus attention on the Object of Worship. The Fire of God will fall. His Presence and Glory will come. After all, worship is not about us, but about Him. It's all about You, Jesus!
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, Biblical scholar and ordained minister with a vision for another Great Awakening in America and around the world. His books are available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html. To invite him to speak to your congregation, group or event, send an email to dreddiehyatt.com.