Cross posted on Grace Notes
This past week I read a book entitled Soulprint by Mark Batterson, a pastor up in Washington, DC (for a review of the book click here). While worship is not the focus of the book, Batterson shares some great thoughts on the subject which are relevant to our work as a choir.
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves that one of the main purposes of our choir is to lead people in worship. Now I’ve said before that worship isn’t limited to the music that is sung and performed on Sunday mornings, but for the purposes of our discussion today I am going to limit it to that. In the back of our minds, though, let’s remember that we worship all the time in many ways – not just via music. Music is a tool of worship, but it is one tool among many. Our job as a choir is to model the use of this particular tool in an effort to lead people to worship as well.
This morning as we sang a congregational song that made a reference to “lifting my hands” I was struck by the fact that I only saw one or two people in the entire congregation lift their hands. And, shame on me, I wasn’t one of those few. It struck me that here we were singing to God that we loved him so much we were willing even to lift our hands up, yet all we (and I say “we” because I fit in here, too) had were hollow words that were not backed up by concrete actions. Batterson writes in his book that,
“Religion is about protocol. Following Jesus is all about desperation. It’s about a God who is desperate for us and a people who are desperate for Him.” (emphasis mine)
Would you describe your relationship with Christ as one where you are “desperate” for him? Next week we’re going to sing a song in the AM service as a congregation that cries out, “I’m desperate for you.” But what does desperation look like? While I might not know exactly what it looks like, I can tell what it does not look like, and what it does not look like is what most of us were looking like this morning.
Why are we so afraid to demonstrate our love, praise, and worship of God in physical actions? I’m not suggesting here that we need to be “more charismatic” or “Pentecostal” with jumping and dancing and speaking in tongues (I’m also not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with any of that, either – don’t get distracted by the reference). What I am asking is why we are afraid to worship God in ways that sometimes take us out of our comfort zone. One comfort zone for our church (as a whole) is an unwillingness to “raise our hands” in worship and/or surrender to God.
I’m going to suggest here that one main reason (maybe not the only one, but a large one) is found in both our insecurity and our pride (now that seems like an oxymoron!). Insecurity because we are afraid of what others may say or think, or maybe we even struggle with truly believing God is there, and pride simply because we don’t want to look foolish (again, being afraid of what others may think or say about us). But here’s the real question: Why does it matter what others think or say? Isn’t God the only one who matters? Do we worship through song and lifting of hands for others or for Him? Batterson writes, “Pride is simply the failure to praise. And the lack of praise always gives rise to pride.” After being accused of making a fool of himself by dancing “half-naked” in front of all Israel, David replied, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Sam 6:22).
Now, again, I am not suggesting we all get “half-naked” next week during the service and start dancing around the sanctuary during the worship service. What I am suggesting is that perhaps we do need to be a little less afraid of what others think of our worship and more focused on what God thinks of our worship. I am suggesting that we be more willing to be so excited about what God has done for us that people can see it in how we act. It’s been said so many times it’s almost cliché, but it’s still true: too many of us get more excited about our favorite team winning a big game than we do about our God winning us salvation…. What does that say about what are we worship?