Worship is not about us
Lim Jun Heng // October 1, 2018, 4:28 pm
Some time ago, my friend sent me a video of a band performing a medley of worship classic with a parodic twist.
For instance, instead of singing “I Exalt Thee”, the singer changed the words to “I Exalt Me”. He parodied a few other songs in a biting but honest take on how many of us approach worship and church these days.
Now, I’ll be the first guy to admit that I found that video hilarious. But on a deeper level, the parody reminded me of the attitude I used to bring into services for a long time.
I lead worship regularly at a parachurch organisation.
Before, I was quite easily immersed into worship and the presence of God. But after some time, I found myself nit-picking at mistakes in each worship set. Whenever I worship led, I found myself increasingly concerned about the mistakes I would make, rather than being fully involved and present in worship.
Eventually, I found myself joining in the chorus of many arm-folding churchgoers: “The worship wasn’t that good.”
But I didn’t want to be that guy after awhile. I didn’t want to be a critical Christian instead of a constructive one. So in time, God led me on a journey to rediscover why I even worshipped in the first place. And along the way, I found one simple truth that changed my perspective on worship completely.
So what is worship really?
The word “worship” is actually derived from the old English word “worth-ship”. So worship is meant for something of worth and value. Both the Hebrew and Greek root words for worship refer to the same prostrating action – of bowing low in reverence and awe.
Worship is reserved for the one who deserves it. To worship something is to declare its worth, and ascribe to it the praise and honour it deserves.
… worship is so much more than putting together a setlist of songs or knowing when to raise our hands. Worship is so much more than an emotion or a response. It’s a state of awed admiration of who God is and what He’s done.
In Revelation 4, we get an awesome glimpse of the very throne of heaven. The fullness of God on the throne is surrounded by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders declaring how great, awesome and holy the Almighty God is!
When I really thought about this scene of heaven, I realised worship is so much more than putting together a setlist of songs or knowing when to raise our hands. Worship is so much more than an emotion or a response. It’s a state of awed admiration of who God is and what He’s done.
Singing and lifting one’s hands in praise are simply external manifestations of an internal admiration. In the place of worship, we declare that God is worth our worship. More than just a song, tithe or job – one’s whole life is worship unto God.
So what does that mean for me? Here’s the simple but sobering answer: Worship is not about me.
When we worship, we fix our eyes on God who made the heavens and the earth. How can it be that the high and lofty one would still care so greatly for us? He is worthy of praise, honour and glory. We are sinful and broken humans in desperate need of His grace. We are least deserving of praise – He is most worthy!
The worship service is not a concert. Worship isn’t man-centred entertainment – it is God-focused adoration. So what if the song selection wasn’t great or the transitions weren’t good to us? We are not the point of the service, God is!
As a worship leader, I can affirm that we who lead are trying our best to ensure that the church can worship God in the best environment possible. But we are doing this for the audience of One!
Singing and lifting one’s hands in praise are simply external manifestations of an internal admiration.
Now that we know worship is not about us, what is the posture we should adopt in worship?
We need to stop looking at ourselves. We need to look at Him.
He is the reason why we gather, the reason why we sing the songs we do. He is the reason why we raise our voices and hands. He alone is infinitely worthy of praise, in light of His infinite glory, majesty and love!
When we really look at Him worship will become so much better, not because anything on stage or around us has changed, but because our perspective is now fixed on the One who is far greater than ourselves.
From such a place, we will be able to render true and pleasing praise to the Most High God.