It has been quite a while since I posted and I have been longing to do so but life got a bit busy and now I am glad to be back. Today’s article serves to remind us of the truth about worship. Although the topic of worship is not new to us, there is no harm in being reminded of what true worship entails. Here goes:
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WORSHIPED GOD?
Get me right here, I am not asking about the last time you were in a church or in the fellowship of brethren, and then a few minutes into the heart-moving beats of the piano or the amazing vocals of the worship leader, you were probed to lift up your hands, shut your eyes, lift your face to the heavens and raise your voice, bringing forth a hallelujah!
No! I am asking: When was the last time you truly worshipped the Lord?
You see, God demands worship, true worship, from all mankind. In the Bible, God summons us throughout the Psalms, to come and worship him in song. This is especially evident in Psalm 95, 96 and 97.
In Psalm 95:2, we are beckoned to go before God and extol Him with music and song. To extol means to praise somebody very much. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness, tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:9). “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1).
These verses make it so clear that the Lord deeply appreciates true worship accorded to Him through music.
So, what really is true worship? Worship means showing respect, adoration and honor to God and giving Him glory and exalting Him. A major characteristic of worship is submission. We submit to God as our creator and the highest Being. We are required to demonstrate this submission in everything we do in life, and this is how worship comes about as a lifestyle.
WORSHIP OR ENTERTAINMENT?
It is sad to see how the heart of worship has been removed from the picture and replaced by other things that worship is not. The gospel industry has turned worship into a session of entertainment, a battlefield in the unending war for popularity among the gospel artists, a fight for titles and positions, a factory for making money and a scramble for the spotlight and fame. All this is contrary to what true worship ought to be.
Worship ought to be a time of revival, a battle field in the war against worldly powers and principalities, a fight against evil, a factory where people are transformed and their souls saved and a coming together of the body of Christ in unity to fix our eyes on Jesus, the object of our worship. Why do we have titles like: ‘upcoming’ gospel artist, ‘rising’ gospel star and ‘hit’ song of the month, instead of us exalting God and Him alone with the aim of making His gospel reach the hearts of men?!
We have made worship to God so much about ourselves and it is no wonder that the moment a gospel artist releases a hit song it becomes a defining moment in his/her life; when really, he/she should be targeting a moment of rejoicing in heaven as God recognizes his/her worship.
It has now become about moving the crowd instead of moving the heart of God, and gaining fans and followers on social media instead of bringing people to follow God. However, on our part as the ‘crowd’ (the artists are not the problem, they are just but a small part of it), we are failing terribly at what is supposed to be our purpose in life.
What we want is that we be entertained, with cool beats and trendy dancing moves, and head-turning and captivating videos; and maybe a classy venue/church for the session. This is why when all these are not availed, we become ‘bored’. But woe unto you, because God does not care about all that. Well, of course God deserves an excellent performance; this, I do not deny. But where is your heart in all this? What is the state of your heart? What does God require of us?
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
The kind of worship God desires is that which comes from a broken heart. A heart that is diligently seeking God in sincere repentance and reverence. Worship should come from the heart and it should be fully directed to God, and not to the moment.
If you are worshipping from the heart, you will not need instruments to psyche you up or put you in the mood. You will not need to be told when to respond in prayer.
In Deuteronomy 6:5, we are exhorted to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Worship should be a confession from our hearts. If not, then it can only be termed as lip service (Mark 7:6).
Worship is an affair of the heart, mind and the spirit. When you sing-‘He is Lord, He is risen from the dead, He is Lord’, does your mind really comprehend what it means to exalt someone to the position of a Lord over you?
When you sing-‘Oh! The blood of Jesus’, do you articulate the ‘Oh’ as just an interjection or is it also an expression of your heart’s cry of joy?
When you sing-‘My soul says yes’, has your spirit really yielded to the authority of Jesus over your life?
When you kneel down, has your heart been bent by the grace of God and hit its breaking point, or is it just your knees bending and hitting the ground?
When you lift your hands up, has your heart surrendered all its grip on the things of this world or is it just your hands spread out free before God?
When you close your eyes and cry, is your heart dissolved in thankfulness and adoration to God or are you just working up your tear glands for the time being?
Worship is acknowledging who we truly are before God and who He truly is to us.
So, in fact, who are we and who is He?
We are nothing on our own, while God is everything on His own and to us.
We are His creation, He our creator.
We are like dust that gets blown away and flowers that wither, while He is eternal.
We are His servants and He is our master.
We do not even belong to ourselves for we were bought, while He is the one who paid that great price that no one else could afford.
We are lowly, while He is mighty.
We are sinners while He is sinless.
We are mortal while He is immortal.
We are vile while He is holy.
We are full of weaknesses while He is perfect.
We are forever constrained to be debtors to His amazing grace and His unfailing love and He is our creditor, unconditionally and freely.
So how dare we go before Him with proud and hardened hearts, treating worship with such casualty and shallowness. How absurd.
FROM DEEP WITHIN
Having said all that, the revelation of the kind of worship God desires from us leaves me with a mental picture:
A servant has been summoned to the chambers of his master. As he approaches, he is filled with fear and trembles. But this fear is not that which hinders him from walking past the doors, instead, it is in fact a fear that drives him to keep walking. This is because he is well aware of his master’s authority, power, supremacy and majesty and at the same time he is aware of his love and kindness. As soon as he opens the door, there is so much light coming forth from the throne of his master that he cannot keep his face up. He bows his head at the awesome glory of his master and approaches his throne. The moment he reaches the presence of the master, he falls to his knees with his head still bowed down, he lifts up his hands in submission to him yet his heart is so gladdened and it rejoices at this privilege to see his master. Now this, is true worship!
As Jesus told the woman at the well, “But the hour is coming, and now is,when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him” (John 4:23).
What we learn from Jesus’ words is that first of all, true worship must be ‘in spirit,’ that is, engaging the whole heart because our spirit has been made alive by His Spirit. This means that there has to be a real passion and hunger for God for true worship to take place.
At the same time, worship must be ‘in truth,’ that is, properly informed and obeying God’s word. We must have knowledge of the God we are worshipping. We must know the object of our worship and this is only possible when we have a personal relationship with God.
In conclusion, true worship is from deep within. It is not about our outward actions of religiosity but rather about a heart that is truly broken and contrite before God. When our worship comes from deep within, then the outward expressions are just a manifestation of the state of our heart.
True worship does not end when the worship leader says: ‘Amen! You may have your seats.’ No! at that point it is only the singing voices that get toned-down and the music instruments stop playing. Rather, true worship constantly goes on in the heart forever.