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What is worship and who is it about?

So what is worship? A question I ponder and pray about rather a lot!

As a worship leader I often am approached at the end of a service by people who will say to me “Wow that was a fantastic time of worship, I got so much out of it!” This has set me to thinking as to whether there is a hidden because in there and who do we say worship is about. This regular comment seems to suggest its about the person and what they get out of it which I guess would make it a feeling. Other comments I’ve had following a service I went to where the ‘normal’ pattern wasn’t followed were “Well, that wasn’t worship!”

Both these statements lead me to, amongst others, the following questions:

Who is worship all about?

Whose responsibility is it to worship?

We’ve all been to services and worship events where the music perhaps wasn’t very good or it didn’t suit our style but does that mean it wasn’t worship? Who made the decision that it wasn’t worship? Isn’t really easy to blame the worship leader “They didn’t choose songs I like!”, “They didn’t play very well today!” or “I prefer the other worship leader!” or maybe we blame the atmosphere or perhaps its that bloke three rows back shouting loudly or the lady near the front dancing etc. etc. We come up with so many excuses and reasons that something wasn’t worship and we seem to base it on what we get out of it.

Without wishing to be controversial or judgemental which planet are we on?!?! Because the last time I looked worship wasn’t about me it was about God but increasingly I seem to be faced with crowds of people who have come for the experience and what they can get out of it rather than for God and what they can give to Him! People seem to be buying into consumer church where it is all about the customer and the customer gets what they deserve! As a slight aside if we got what we deserved we wouldn’t be in the fantastic and most amazing presence of God with salvation and eternal life beckoning we’d be burning in a fiery pit!

I wonder whether perhaps we are caught in the myth that singing is worship when actually singing is singing!! I love the quote I read from Nathan Fellingham which basically (in my words) said music isn’t worship it is an amazing gift from God that helps us to express our worship.

We are human beings created by God! Why were we created by God? To worship! Every single one of us worships, the difference comes in what we worship. If we look around this world we see all sorts of people worshiping all sorts of things. Money is a massive object of worship the need to have more of it and then I’ll be happy, to have the bigger house, the better car, the next new fangled gadget. We do all kinds of things to get money and ‘make our life better’. It becomes our focus, what drives us, what we put our hope in and we can begin to see the parallels now to Spiritual life with God. Money in this case begins to replace God, as these things take place our energy goes towards that and we forget the need for God until it all goes belly up! It’s not just money there’s alcohol, food, friends, pornography, the internet, drugs and the list goes on and on and on. On differing levels we start the slippery slope of sidelining God.

So what do we do, where do we go from here? Well I guess basically we need to stop serving our own needs and start looking to serving God. Stop thinking about the experience and what we can get out of it but rather what we can put in to it, what we can give to God. Rather than being consumers we need to become servers, servers of God and the call that He places on our lives.

A couple of experiences pulled this up in my life. My first visit to Spring Harvest a few years ago being one of them. I turned up and went along to the big top with massive expectations of an amazing experience and all the things that would happen to me in this huge corporate worship. Half way through that first evening I sat down and thought well this is not what I was expecting, I’m not getting anything from this. The music was fantastic, there were dancers, people painting, loads of people doing various things in worship. I was completely distracted looking around at all the things that were going on and getting nothing from it. At that point as I chatted with God, He said to me don’t you realise it’s not about you. It’s not what you get out of it, what are you giving to me? I realised I was waiting for something to happen (I’m not really sure what) and in that waiting everything was taking my focus! I steered my focus to God and at that point everything else receded and my worship of God began. This lead me to a place a few years later where I was at an event and in honesty the music really wasn’t my cup of tea. But rather than sitting out and getting upset that I couldn’t worship I turned my focus on God. I didn’t sing, I didn’t know the songs, but I did worship.

These experiences along with my walk with God have led me on the path towards achieving Romans 12:1-2 being a living sacrifice for God.

And this is all just in corporate worship. We then get onto personal worship and I think perhaps this is where the problem really lies! We can sing the songs and give an appearance of worship in corporate times but in our personal worship what does it look like? Do we have times when we worship God outside of church? Isn’t all of life supposed to be worship?

That is why we need to be living sacrifices, singing is just one aspect and we all know we should pray and study even if we don’t always do it! But it goes further, our life should be worship, everything we do should be to bring glory to God. So our work is worship! We need to follow what God wants with it and as we serve Him in worship we begin to better be able to discern His will and as we walk in His will, as we answer His call, we serve Him in more and more of our life and that too becomes our worship. We stop doing it to gain money or recognition and so on and do it because it is what God is leading us too and for His glory. This then transfers into our corporate worship, we begin to worship more authentically seeking to serve God rather than ourselves and do you know what very often He blesses us with incredible and intense times when we know His closeness, when the Spirit fills to overflowing and these are beautiful times because we are all about God but He demonstrates the grace and love that He has for us in the blessings He gives.

So my challenge to you would be:

Who is your worship about?

Why do you worship?

What do you need to change?

What can you do in your personal worship to enable you to worship God in a corporate setting?

Start today, make the decision to focus on God in all things, seek His guidance, worship Him and see how different your perception of worship becomes. Don’t do it for what you will or would like to get out of it but rather think about what you can give to God and do it for the glory of the one who created you and loves you as His child so much so that He gave His only son that you might have life and the freedom to enter in to the privilege that is worship of God!!!

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