This post is really for those who go to a worship service on a regular basis. I was thinking about Sunday morning and the time we gather as Christians to worship God. For myself, I’ve come to realized that engaging the mind a bit ahead of time is a necessity for a meaningful time of worship. I find it interesting how often in the old testament the people of God are reminded (possibly commanded?) to remember. They are told to remember what God had done. To remember they were once slaves and were rescued by God. That with a mighty hand and outstretched arm God had made a way for them.
Romans 12 doesn’t just tell us that we should offer ourselves to God. It tells in view of God’s mercy offer ourselves. Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is a pretty high demand (as the world sees it). In order to do that as a response to what God has done, God must have done something pretty remarkable. (Obviously, he did – Jesus gave His life for us so we owe Him ours in return).
So I come back to our time of worship. When we stand there and are getting ready to sing, getting ready to worship, is our expression truly a response to God’s mercy? I find that I must pause and really remember. I have to have a mind-blowing realization of God’s mercy. I have to realize how much I deserve God’s wrath and how incredible it is that God has not wiped me out already. I have to remember that Jesus Himself took that wrath. I must count myself lucky that God is loving and forgiving because I’ve been pretty darn selfish this week and made a lot of decisions for myself even though I promised God He was in charge. I must remember that my breath today and my very life was a gift – that God let me be alive today.
I have a hunch that a big reason Christians have not discovered the wonderous depth of a spiritual worship experience is because they haven’t come to realize the awesomeness of God’s mercy. Matt Redman, in his song Worship Starts with Seeing You, says “how can we sing of things we have not seen? Open our eyes toward a greater glimpse….Worship starts with seeing You. Our hearts respond to Your revelation”
The more we see God at work in our lives, the more we understand how much grace and mercy He is pouring out on us, the more awesome He will become, the more our hearts will swell with gratitude and the more astounded we’ll be. It won’t matter if we’re singing a hymn or the newest worship hit. Our hearts will overflow with a love for God we must express.
So before you join with your Christian group at your local gathering, remember God’s mercy. Pause long enough to let your heart fill with gratitude and joy. Humble yourself (decide that having an opinion, good or bad, of yourself is frivolous) Turn your attention to God and do not let yourself slip into mindless and heartless singing. And be filled and overflowing with the all the wonderful things that happen in the Presence of the Living God!
Thanks so much for this. So many of us come together and before Him by rote, and it’s really a dishonor to Him. I know I’m guilty, and am forever grateful of His mercy and grace. The words of the Matt Redman song are so true. Will have to look them up. And, don’t know if I have a place to say this, but I’m so proud of you. I love seeing all that God is doing in and through you. You and your family are such a blessing and you truly honor our God in your service to Him. I pray that He blesses all of you always.
Right on. We as worship leaders have to walk a fine line between expecting our church family to be already worshiping when they get to church and understanding that our first song is like turning on a bare lightbulb in a dark room. We hope that worship is already happening for folks. This doesn’t mean singing and clapping on the way in the door. But it does mean having their hearts and minds turned toward God and glorifying Him with their morning before we all gather together.
But the reality is, it is going to take 5-10 minutes for their eyes to get adjusted on the Glory shining in our eyes (to continue that lightbulb analogy). So that first song, welcome, whatever, is really an acclamation time for many.
I joke all the time that our role on Sunday is to help people get out of the minivan and into the presence of God. One of my profs put it this way – we will never engage God in worship until we first encounter Him.
So we have 2 roles
– 1) try to teach and encourage people to live as that living sacrifice, to continue to “be being” transformed each day so that when we come together on Sunday, it’s truly to celebrate all God has done throughout the week and to encourage one another. Basically, don’t come to church to meet God, come with God to church to reunite with the Body.
– 2) Understand that for many, Sunday is the first time in a while that they’ll connect with God, and that’s ok, too. Give them time for their eyes to adjust (and maybe their ears). It’s our job to create that Environment where people can Encounter God and Engage Him in Worship.
Keep blogging. You make me think, bro!