“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” – Hebrews 13:15
Being a worship leader myself I have seen the great power of worship. Scripture tells us that God literally inhabits the praises of His people. True praise creates an environment that the presence (or countenance) of God Himself will inhabit, and when God truly comes into the room, everything changes.
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” – Psalms 22:3
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” – Psalms 42:5
True worship is pure and powerful, however I have also seen the ugly side of it, what man all too often makes of it. I’ve seen it used for the vain glory of men, for self gratification, for emotional manipulation, and for entertainment.
It’s so easy to loose sight of who or what is really being worshiped and change the environment from one that worships God and welcomes the Holy Spirit, to one that worships self and welcomes unholy ones.
For the worship leader or musician this comes by way of pride, a desire to be seen or heard, and the temptation to preform rather then worship. To be used to usher in a true move of God, one must first be delivered from the desire to be seen or heard.
For the worshiper it often comes by way of deciding that we get to choose what we want the worship to sound and look like. Whether our preference is country western, hymnals, modern, contemporary, or so on, we want to sing what we like. Now if we like a song because we feel how it moves God then that’s fine, but if we like it because of how it moves us then it’s not fine. God is not confined to a genre, only our preference works that way. God on the other hand is moved by the hearts cry coming through each song and it’s intent to either give glory to God or steal it from Him.
To clarify what I mean let’s look at it this way. Our worship is our gift to God. It’s truly all we have to give. So if we choose to give what we like as opposed to giving what God wants and responds to then it is no different then someone giving a gift to their spouse for their birthday that really they got for themselves but tried to claim was for the other. They weren’t really thinking of their spouse and what they wanted, they were thinking of themselves and what they wanted but claimed it was their gift to the other. This will only serve to cause the spouse receiving this selfish gift to feel unappreciated, unimportant, unloved, and uncared for. It’s not about how pretty, or expensive the gift is, but the thought behind it. You would rather an old wild flower out of the yard then an expensive gift that isn’t really for you an only serves to remind you that the one you love, really loves themselves more then they love you because the gift was more for them then it was for you.
I’ve seen people do this to God so many times. They refuse to give God a gift of praise that moves His heart because they are too concerned with getting the one that moves theirs. They cling to songs and music that makes them feel good because it entertains them, instead of seeking to entertain the Holy Spirit with songs that minister and move the heart of God, make Him feel wanted, welcomed, appreciated, and desired with the first fruits of our attention.
When you truly love someone you want to do the things that they like, appreciate, and react to. Not because you like those things, but because they do, and you like to see them react with joy, pleasure, and happiness because of you. You want to be the cause of their happiness, not their sorrow. If we truly love God then our worship will be the same. Knowing that our praise offering is the only gift we can truly bring to God, it should be the songs, words, and melodies that He likes and reacts to, not what we like. It’s not about the genre of music we like and want to hear or our favorite song, it’s about what moves the heart of God causing Him to react with joy to feeling loved, welcomed, and appreciated. Worship is not for our entertainment, we are not the ones being worshiped, less we imply that we, as the giver, deserve the gift more then the one we claim to give it to and make ourselves idols in the house of God.
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” – John 4:23