Worship experiences… having or giving them?
Givers and Receivers
Worship, like gift giving, involves a giver and a receiver, which are you? We would not be out of line in saying it should focus on God! If it needs to be meaningful, it should be meaningful to Him first. We need to set aside our own particular preferences and discover what He wants. After all, the objective of worship is to give God the acknowledgment He deserves. The measure therefore, of a great worship service, is not what experience comes to me, but the one I create for Him.
There is no question God wishes to bless us. He is happy to pour out His Spirit and create a rapturous experience for us. Still the objective of worship is to bless Him. What we get out of it must always be secondary. The correct order is critical. It reminds me of something I witnessed a few years ago about gifting. At Christmas my brother was asked what he wanted as a gift. He indicated his plan to buy a camera. I remember it clearly. He said ‘I need a good one, so please do not get me a cheap camera, otherwise get me something else and I will buy the camera myself’.
Nothing more was said. Come Christmas morning he opened his presents with anticipation, only to find a very cheap camera. It was difficult for him to be grateful as his wishes were ignored. If we are actually ‘giving’ then the desire of recipient must be paramount. The same is true in worship. Unfortunately worship experiences have become a tool for pleasing men rather than God.
The truth is real worship is a secret weapon against our self-indulgence, which is a key reason for getting it right. Since Adam’s fall our disposition has been to serve ourselves – a form of worship. When we answer the call to honour God, we are reversing this order. This in itself is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, when even the Church does not do this, we cease to be salt and light. That absence will result in increased darkness within our culture.
Perhaps this is part of our role in stemming the tide of narcissism in today’s society. Who else can champion the message to say ‘it is not about you?’ Then again, it may be that the increase of narcissism in a culture is tied to the absence of pure unselfish praise in the Church. It is time to turn a corner and give God what He deserves.
Like the defining line in the movie ‘Gladiator’…’the time of honouring ourselves is coming to an end’. Worship is that end. It says who and what we will honour. Within the heart of the believer it seals the work of the cross by reversing the direction of our worship, away from ourselves and toward God. It is time we assess worship services not by the experience we receive but the one we provide.