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Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Is Authentic Worship?

I heard one preacher wearing a velcro suit jumped on a trampoline and stuck himself to a wall during his sermon. He was illustrating connectiveness. At least, this is what I was told.

I heard a church was using a smoke machine before and during their worship services so that it appeared that the Praise Band was playing and singing in the clouds.

Sure, I love a great illustration. I love a video that makes a point or a "prop" that makes the words make sense but is it authentic worship when there is more time spent on the illustration than the whole message? It is important that we entertain in order to worship?

Many worship services have become outreach events without regard to worship. There is no reverence for God nor is the focus on Him. The attention is put on the attenders. The preacher and all those on "stage" are performing for those who sit in the pews (or stadium seats, chairs or bean bags). The worship if void of spirit and truth.

Worship should not be boring but it cannot focus on the world or the things of the world and be pleasing to God. It must speak to the spirit of the individuals attending so that the message turns the attenders toward Christ.

True worship can have no hidden agenda. It may not be intended to be offensive but the Cross is often offensive to those who hear of it. They would like to think that they can come to church and continue in their sinfulness with impunity. The Cross speaks of a separation of man and God because of sin. It mends the tear by the blood of Jesus. It brings conviction. The person who hears the story of the Cross is either convicted to give their lives to Christ or reject Him.

Authentic worship does not run people off though some may leave. It cannot be all things to all people all the time. Nothing authentic can do that. People that are searching for something which makes them feel good all the time will not always enjoy authentic worship. Authentic worship is true.

So, this morning you may have gone to church. Would you say that the major  goal of those leading was to make you feel happy and good about your life or bring you closer to Christ? Who was the audience? Were you the audience or was God?

Authentic worship is spirit and truth. At least, that's what Jesus said.

John 4:23-24 (NIV) 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

1 comment:

Anthony Chia, high.expressions said...

It is important for a local church to seek the Lord for directions for what she is to do for her seasons and times. Things that work well for a church may NOT necessarily be the things that another church must adopt. It is necessary to look at specific items of a menu/liturgy, and "analyse" it; and it is NOT wrong to do so, BUT one should NOT forget to view all things against the overall thrusts or missions of that church, perceived as her callings for the specific periods/seasons of time.

What possibly does God want a local church to accomplish? We must firstly view the big pictures, and then see if the smaller pieces are in line with the big pictures like:
1) a local church is to draw believers to worship God.
2) it is to do the work of the Great Commission.
3) it is to encourage gathering together to build up one another, to help one another, to love one another.
4) As a breakdown of the Great Commission work, the local church is to:
a) attempt to save people (salvation),
b) help believers to grow in faith – disciple making, and
c) to have as an end-product of success, believers who love God and love his neighbours.

So, the programs of a church have to be looked at against such thrusts as above. To be fair, when we see a certain praise and worship session, we have to be clear if it is the ordinary thing, that church does, as a liturgy item of her regular services; for it is possible that a certain “concert-style” praise and worship, was an outreach effort, doubling as a time of praise and worship of a evangelistic service. In life, often “balance” is necessary, it is NOT a balancing of a truth; there is just not enough space here (in a comment ) to indwell into this “balance” issue. If it is an evangelistic effort, people have to come; if they don’t, the Word would have no audience, and it will be pointless to conduct such a meeting.
If it is a normal regular service, and if the liturgy is a time to praise and worship God, then it is a time to praise and worship God; and as such, it is to please Him, and offer up to Him what He likes. Yes, it is NOT wrong to say, it has nothing to do with us; everything to do with God, but practically, what is the under-shepherds’ role? You can insist the only instrument allowed is the piano; you can insist only traditional hymns are to be sung, but the people are entitled to pose you this: “Are you sure God only like the piano and traditional hymns, and NOT any others?” If the last time, you fried an egg for your wife to eat, and she was very happy about it, it does NOT mean that every time, you must just do that one thing, fry an egg for her. Your wife does NOT expect you to be coming up a new dish every time; it is completely normal for us to settle into a norm; but it does NOT hurt to whip up some new dishes, from time to time. But of course, do NOT give your wife what she does NOT eat!

We should have an idea of what God will or will NOT “eat”, just as we are to know what our wives would or would NOT eat! Garnishing or prop, per se, is NOT the issue; it is whether or NOT, our acts of love are genuine and proceeded from our heart – that is what the “in truth” of the ”worship in spirit and in truth” means. There is no pretence in truth. What is “in spirit”? No clapping of hands, no dancing, no bodily movements! Anything physical, count NOT? Please, it is NOT “just worship in your spirit”, and do NOT do anything physical; it is NOT practical, and it is NOT in keeping with the Word of God. Are NOT singing and utterances, physical? The Word said, we are to “offer up OUR BODY as a living sacrifice … this is OUR SPIRITUAL act of worship” (Rom 12:1). The manifestation of our spirit is through our body. I am NOT saying church leaders should just cater to the people, but we do have to keep them coming, into the local church, and then we can monitor, educate, and assist them to develop their life of worship unto God. If by what we do, we “push” them out, they worship or NOT (God), we know NOT; what kind of shepherds are we, then?