Many Christians become picky about the forms of worship they will engage with. They have their own preferred style for the music, service format, message themes and presentation, and so on.
Once a person’s preferences have been chosen there are several factors which come into play. Firstly they may tend to think less of any form of worship that is not their preferred model. Secondly they will likely stop exploring the options, and stick to their preferred alternative, for better or for worse.
Form Replaces Reality
The danger for many Christians is that they come to settle upon a preferred ‘form’ of worship, with its various elements and expressions, and move away from the reality of worship itself.
While they may have come to faith and initially been ready to embrace any of many modes of worship, just willing to glorify God, they can settle over time into routines and rituals which become empty of true heartfelt worship.
Liturgies and rituals can become routine and people can go through the motions, rather than engaging at a heart level. And don’t think that it is only the more traditional churches which have liturgies and rituals. I have been in churches which boast their liberty from ritual, while following a rigid format which is replicated religiously week after week.
Do You Know How To Worship?
I am concerned that many people do not know how to worship God. They know the words of the hymns or songs and they know what to expect and how to fit into their regular church programs, but they do not know how to worship God outside of those constraints.
Jesus Christ revealed that God the Father is seeking people who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
“But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.” John 4:23
I am always happiest to see people who can worship God in multiple formats, expressions and circumstances. Those who need music, a group setting, some rousing preaching, or similar prop to enable their expressions of worship do not yet have the liberty to worship that they could have.
If God came to you and asked you if you would worship Him, what would you say? “If I asked you to worship Me, would you do it?”
Most of us would answer the Lord with a ready “Yes”!
But then the next challenge might stumble us. What if God asked you to go into a church which uses format and style outside of your approved set of expressions? Could you worship God in that setting? Could you sit in silence, or, alternatively bounce along with a jubilant throng? Could you endure slow grinding organ chords, unaccompanied psalmody, thundering rock bands or vigorous calypso?
In Your Heart
The answer to that interrogation is best found in the answer to this question, “Can you worship God in your heart?”
If you can place God in the centre of your attention, despite the distractions or lack of familiar encouragements then you can worship Him. If you find that you cannot place Him in the centre of your attention, or if you must have a special style of support to be able to do so, then your worship is disabled.
Worshiping God or Self
When you feel sour about a church service, music selection, service format, or similar aspect of your worship activities what is the problem? Is it that God has been offended and you are upset on his behalf? Or is it that you have been offended in some way?
Do you go to ‘worship’ to glorify God or to serve your own desires for a positive experience?
I have often heard people talk about a church which they left because it didn’t meet their needs. It is not uncommon to hear people speak ill of a preacher or a church.
It’s also common to find people who are ‘church shopping’, looking around for the best fit for themselves and their family. They have a shopping list of qualities which they are looking for, specifying music styles, sermon qualities, ancillary programs for their children or youth, and so on.
All this “I must find the right church for me” stuff takes on the form of worshipping ‘self’ not God.
A friend recently told me how he is building more worship into his family life each week. He has even organised to celebrate communion with his children, in the home, at random times during the week.
I know of others who have removed their television set so they can find more time to spend in prayer and worship in their own home. I have met many people who have enrolled in courses, joined new groups and created new routines, in order to give more worship to God.
Since God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth, what is it that you are doing to increase your real worship of God? If you are relying on a weekly church service to give you your religious fix, then you are hardly worshipping God. You may even be just worshipping yourself – indulging your preferred pleasures in your chosen modes of religious activity.
Call to Worship
There is a call to worship going forth into all the earth. Can you hear it?
It is coming from heaven and it has been sounding forth since creation. God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
I call you to worship. On God’s behalf I plead with you to glorify God. I call you to engage in adoration of the Lord. I call you to meet with fellow Christians and worship God with them. I call you to put aside your ideas of what makes a good service or a great worship time, and to get into worshiping God with all you are and all you have.
He is God. He is worthy of your worship. He is more important than your personal likes and dislikes. He is more important than your opinions and preferences. He is SO important that He is worthy of being worshipped DESPITE what you think or want.
I call you to be a worshipper who abandons yourself in glorifying God, in season and out of season, within your comfort zone and outside your comfort zone, when it suits you and when it doesn’t. Do it so God gets the glory, not so you get what you want.
Glory to God! I can hear a call to worship!