A few months ago, I mentioned the irony that I am a worship leader but bored with worship music as I know it. I’m just in the beginning stages of re-thinking this…but I think I’m beginning to understand why.
Worship has always been at the foundation of our ministry, and part of our life-calling. We’ve led worship and taught the principles of worship to many people in many places. And I have experienced God’s presence in remarkable ways in the atmosphere of worship. But now I’m getting little glimpses of understanding that tell me that all this stuff I thought I was expert in has just been barely scratching the surface. And I think the reason this is dawning on me is the very fact that I am bored with all this. My heart for God hasn’t gone away, but it’s like all this just isn’t enough anymore.
There’s enough stirring in my soul that it’s probably going to take several months and numerous blog posts to process it all…but at this time, there are two thoughts coming to the forefront…
First…I’m considering the fact that although worship has been at the heart of our faith for thousands of years, the particular corporate worship format we use nowadays–the worship leader planning a songlist and directing a group–is a fairly new concept. If the church has spent most of its days without this format…it simply can’t be the end-all-be-all of our worship. And because I’ve known no better…I’ve treated it as such in the past.
It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with this way of “doing worship”, and I do believe (and have taught) that the resurgence of worship in the past few decades is part of the fulfillment of the “restoration of David’s Tabernacle” discussed in Acts 15. But we must still differentiate between method and principle, and prophetic implications aside–our way of leading worship is still a method. And methods are subject to change. So I’m pondering what it looks like to see worship through a wider lens.
Second…as much as I love the creative expressions of passionate love for Jesus in corporate worship, I have to face the fact that “loving God” in Scripture goes a whole lot deeper than just telling God we love Him, or singing to Him about it. Co-heir wrote a post about this, and that has stirred my thoughts as well. The reality is, not only is there little precedent in Scripture to support a lip-service-only form of worship, but on more than one occasion God reprimands His people for presenting religious offerings of worship without living out their faith in the weightier matters, like social justice and righteous living.
In addition…the song lyrics we do have in Scripture (e.g., the Psalms) are a lot deeper than the superficial “Jesus-I-love-You-so-much” lyrics we are writing today–and that makes me think we’re missing something. Some people have come out in criticism of the almost romantic way we sing about Jesus nowadays. I see a divine romance playing out in Scripture, so I’m not so opposed to the romantic element, as long as it’s balanced and isn’t the only way we approach God (see this post for clarification). But I do understand those criticisms when we’re singing songs that treat our love for Jesus almost like a teenage boy-girl infatuation, with little else to back it up. Passion runs deeper than infatuation, and we need to understand the difference. A deep and true passion for Jesus will motivate us to do more than just sing love songs to Him.
And that begs the question: What truly demonstrates our love for God beyond just the corporate worship element?
I think the answer lies in yet another question: How did God show His love for us?
1 Jn. 4:9-11 (NASB): By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Jn. 15:13 (NASB): Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
How did God show His love for us? The best example we have is that He laid down His life for us.
There’s so much more that could be said here…but I’m understanding that if all of life can be worship (read: showing love) unto God, then I don’t want to limit it to the churchy acts of worship. I think that’s why I’ve been bored with it–I am longing for something deeper. I want to worship the Lord in the weightier matters, the many ways I can find to lay my life down for Him–things like loving the people He loves, walking uprightly, practicing simple obedience, nurturing the character of Christ in my own heart.
Oh, I’ve always believed in all this to some extent, and tried to walk in these things to the best of my understanding; but I don’t think I’ve drawn the connection until now that these weightier things are part of worship. Now that this is dawning on me, I realize that if all I focus on is this perceived calling to lead worship–if that’s all I do, and all I teach others to do–I am building an empty shell on a shallow foundation. I believe this understanding is part of the “more” I’ve been searching for.
It certainly is a good thing to come together and worship Jesus corporately, whatever form that takes; but infatuation with Jesus is not enough. I think that it is the weightier things behind it that cause our worship to be out of a true passion.
(Photo by vagabond9.)