THE WORLD IS WATCHING
This week I wrote a simple post on Facebook that receive a great deal of response. It simply read, “The world watches the way we worship.” Those of you who know me, have heard that again and again over the years, but I am burdened at how our congregations not only sing, but how they look as they “worship.” Interestingly, white American church culture has taught their children “behave,” be reverent,” “sit still,” “don’t run with sissors….” etc. I understand the intent, but I am afraid we have missed an important aspect to worship.
As a child, I eagerly wanted to run to, and throw my arms up to my dad. I knew he loved me and I love him. This is the relationship God wants with us. That is not disrespect, it is worship. To a degree, we have thwarted our worship activity so, as adults, though we often fellowship openly in the lobbies of our churches, we walk into the worship center as if Jesus has died all over again. Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other cultures teach their children to openly and freely worship and thus as adults, are free to express openly their praise. Our intentions were no doubt pure, but the result is that our witness too often appears we have no real zeal for our faith. Reverence is acknowledging who God truly is and worship is responding to that knowledge. The worship of the Bible was often noisy and active. Not “rowdy,” but it sure was not passive.
Right now we are all trying to wrap our brains around the fact that so many Christians are suffering greatly around the world. As horrific as it is, it is bringing a great deal of attention to Christians. The world is literally watching believers and asking, “Is their faith real?” With all this attention, this might be greatest opportunity the Lord has ever given us to boldly and openly worship. As discouraging as it is around us, if we will minister/worship out of the overflow our relationship with Christ, we will not be discouraged and the world, our world, will see Jesus in us.
A dear friend once told me he wouldn’t pray in church nor sing a solo because he didn’t want to “show off.” This isn’t about showing off, this is about openly proclaiming Christ in the pews and on the street. We don’t need to be obnoxious or silly, but unapologetic in our faith in Christ. Jesus said, “If I be lifted Up, I will draw all men unto me.” “So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The Psalmist said, “He has put a New Song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. Many will SEE it and fear, and trust in the Lord.” And my “Coenian” translation of Luke 10:20, “Do not rejoice that you have the coolest or biggest music ministry, but rather Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” That is worship!
To the music guys…..God has given us the ability to lead worship with our music. Let’s make every effort to not only present effective music from the platform, but get to know, to teach, to engage the guy in the last pew. Encourage him and select songs he can sing and not just listen to. (I believe the most important music in the church that of the congregation.) Teach him to smile and express his faith. Remind him the world around him is watching. Children and guests are watching to see if what we say is real is truly real. Worship is a serious endeavor, yet true worship is consumed in JOY and those God has entrusted to us need to be reminded that the people around them cannot see their insides, we must allow that joy to reflect on our faces and in our singing. That’s not “showing off,” that is allowing Christ’s light to shine through us.
I close with something really cool that happened a couple of days ago where I am serving as interim. I was wandering through the crowd before the evening service meeting people as I normally do. I met a young adult woman who was sitting alone. In talking with her, she told me she had only been attending a couple of weeks. (BTW, I told her that I have just one place left in the choir for a young woman who had only been attending the church a couple of weeks….) Anyway, though she appeared to be shy and by herself, she was surrounded by a group of people who were totally engaged in worship, singing, reading God’s word, praying together. This young guest was ‘watching’ and she saw Jesus. I believe I will see her in the choir very soon.