Churches are constantly trying to find ways to bring in people and convince them to come back each and every Sunday. Often the method of drawing people in has to do with offering a particular “style of worship” to get the people excited. OFB's Ed Hurst examines how we worship in an attempt to reach a “principle of worship.”
I have written many a page teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit in the human soul. While His powerful wind blows as a sail upon the hearts of the Lost, He blows within the hearts of His own. Our lifelong struggle is learning to hear the Breath of God, and discern where He points us.
Few things we might do to that end can match spending time in worship. The greatest difficulty in pursuing that principle is peeling back the layers of crud encrusting that truth. There are groups who think they own this, simply because they enjoy so much what they call worship. The resulting glow and resolve may well bring a better view of His purpose, but it's hard to be sure when there is so much baggage of an obviously mere cultural nature weighing it down.
Do not mistake mere emotional stirring for the hand of God. The deepest sinner with a talent for music and an understanding of psychology and culture can make you feel you've been in the presence of God. This is not about vessels for a cause, but whether you have to have that atmosphere to worship. You need not feel anything at all to worship. If you can't say you've been in God's presence because you weren't emotionally stirred, you have a deep misunderstanding of God. The emotions are merely along for the ride, and have no say in the matter.
I often say we worship best without any artistry. That is, we find out our own capacity for seeking the Lord's face when the conditions strip away all the comfortable associations we have with fine music (carefully selected for taste) and a large group to give support to swelling emotions. If the melody is not made in your heart first, then you are faking it. That is, you are being led falsely, and permitting it for the sake of something lower than the Spirit. Try worshiping in a small group without instruments, but with human voices alone, including all those who can't carry a tune.
Until you can worship without emotional outburst, and without all the cultural trappings; until you can worship and devote your self fully to the Lord in acknowledging His Lordship quietly; until you can strip away all the trappings of man and find that glowing center in itself, you cannot claim to worship under any conditions at all.
When we get past that, we can then begin to work at finding what His voice sounds like in our spiritual ears. For of a surety, worship is the means to clearing our hearts and minds of other impulses and pressures, and making us able to walk away knowing something regarding our service we did not know before. Worship Him because you cannot avoid it.
Ed Hurst is Associate Editor of Open for Business.