And in one short phrase, he summed up so much of the tension I feel on a constant basis about worship in the modern age.
“In 2015, let’s be less passionate about worship and more passionate about the triune God we’re worshiping.”
It’s something Kevin & I have talked about on the podcast. It’s something I’m deeply passionate about. But, how much time do we devote to worshipping God compared to the amount of time we prepare the performance. Or, like the title of this post are we worshipping the creator or creation?
Are we so caught up in what the created ones produce that we don’t ever turn the corner to humbling ourselves before the creator. I’m not talking about worshipping trees and bees. Though, that happens too.
Think about the irony and even blasphemy of it all. God, the creator of all things created us in his image. And He created us to create. But, everything we create is from something that God has already created. If we build buildings, it’s with materials God made. If we preach sermons, it’s with His word and His logic and understanding. If we write songs, it’s with his creation of rhyme and music. If we paint art, it’s with His materials and the ideas He has inspired us with. If we create set designs, lighting designs and videos, it’s with light that God created and technological advancements that God gave people the ability to create.
And we make it all about us.
Any form of worship that becomes anything more than a conduit through which we give God glory is blasphemy and idolatry. Blasphemy is the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things. When we don’t worship God with His created things, we are using God’s creation to draw attention to ourselves. We are using the guise of worshipping God to meet our own emotional needs for acceptance and attention.
“But, I don’t make it about me. I make it about God.” If you do, great job! But, let me ask you this: what are you thinking about while you’re worshipping? When you’re leading from the stage are you thinking about God with adoration, or are you thinking about how you look, how the people watching you are thinking about you and if you’re going to get compliments for that solo? When you’re in the congregation, are you thinking about God and his nature with adoration, or are you thinking about which hand to raise & when you should raise it?
I think there are a thousand subtle ways that we have made worship about us and our preference. None of them were designed to take attention away from God. But, the combination of them all has distracted us immensely. We can deal with one distraction well. Some of us can deal with several. But we have reached a point in modern worship where there are literally thousands of things happening at any given moment.
A thousand adjustments of .18 degrees and we’re moving backwards.
How do we fix it?
William Temple defined worship this way:
“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”
This is the benchmark we need to use in evaluating all aspects and criterion of worship. Does _______ move us closer to submission? Does ___________ nourish our minds with His truth? Does _________ purify our imagination with his beauty?
And may I suggest that if you’re reacting harshly and negatively to this post, there’s a good chance you’ve started worshipping creation instead of the creator.
Because this is the bottom line. None of the forms and styles and devices and things matter one iota compared to God. And at the end of the day, if they’re getting in the way of worshipping our creator, it’d be better to remove the obstacle that’s keeping us from God.
Or would we rather worship the obstacle?