Performance vs. Worship (Part 1/3)- Ripples in the pond

I suspect that just posting this title will stir some people up. Few issues in the current church seem to elicit strong opinions and reactions more that the use, configuration and presentation of music in worship services.

For the moment, let us ignore the usual divisive issues of style, drums, etc. I would like to address what I consider a much more serious issue – the slide of worship into performance, and its alienating effect on the congregation. There are many aspects to this issue, from both sides of the platform, but that should not sidetrack the discussion. In the end all that matters is glorifying worship before God.

To quote a well know chorus “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God”. Or more traditionally “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,”.

Let’s start with theology, looking at God, where everything always starts and ends. The infinite God, who created this world from nothing at all, needed us not before creation. He was totally and completely self-sufficient in the fellowship of His triune nature. Yet He created us, for His own purposes, in such a way that we can bring him joy (Grudem, Systematic Theology, Ch 11). I agree. Scripture states repeatedly that to worship and glorify God is one of our primary, if not our most primary, purpose. Simply put, it pleases God. We, as His creatures, are commanded and exhorted to worship.

In worshiping in music in our formal Sunday services, we are bringing glory and joy to God, raising His name up. This has nothing whatsoever to do with any hint at all of the glorification or building up of ourselves through the act of worship. Any building up of the worshiper is solely as a result of the Lord’s work in him or her, not through the worshiper’s work in the task. This must be the approach if we are to be appropriately humble before almighty God. Any other stance leads directly to pride.

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