(Read Part 1 here)
I used to be an avid fan of the show American Idol. On one episode a few years ago, towards the end of the season, one of the most popular young male contestants was singing near the edge of the stage. All the young ladies had crowded around the stage’s edge and were raising their hands as he was singing.
I was struck by that image, and said “it looks like they’re worshiping.”
I was, of course, referring to the resemblance of the TV studio’s concert to any number of youth camp services I’ve attended, but as soon as the words left my mouth, I realized they were true.
Those girls were worshiping. They just weren’t worshiping Jesus.
When God created us, He designed us to worship him, but when we reject him, we inevitably fill that void with something else. Whether or not you realize it, you worship something.
Take a moment a look at Revelation 4 with me, would you? After the prophetic messages for the seven churches in Asia, John’s vision takes on a more glorious dimension. He is ushered into the throne room of the Almighty God.
The Lord is surrounded by living creatures, elders, and angels. Their response to his presence gives us a picture of what worship should look like:
“Day and night they never stopped singing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, the all-powerful God, who was and is and is coming!'” And, “as they worshiped the one who lives forever, they placed their crowns in front of the throne and said, ‘Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. You created all things, and by your decision they are and were created'” (Revelation 4:8, 10, CEV).
What I notice first about this image of those assembled around God’s throne is that everything they’re saying and doing is all about Him.
I was so frustrated last Sunday when I was listening to a Christian radio program billed as “Sunday morning praise.” But the songs were the same as those they play the rest of the time.
I see the same dangerous trend happening in our churches. We sing songs that are all about us: our needs, our desires, our love, and we call it worship. We are deceiving ourselves.
Well, to be clear, we are worshiping when we sing those songs. We just aren’t worshiping God. We’re worshiping ourselves. It might make us feel good in the moment, but it isn’t what God wants from us.
The other important thing that I notice about the scene in John 4 is that when confronted with the presence of God, the angels and elders and living creatures did something. They sang. They bowed. They laid their crowns at Jesus’ feet.
I can almost hear some of arguing with me about this one, saying that you can never really tell what is actually going on in someone’s heart.
And that’s true. To a point.
But if you are truly in awe of who God is, and desire to show him your adoration, you will do something. Just like those girls at the American Idol taping who couldn’t contain the excitement of being just feet away from their favorite singer, our encounter with God should compel us to action.
It won’t look the same for everyone. But it definitely will not look like sitting in your chair with your arms crossed, or standing silently with a bored expression on your face.
So when the band starts playing at your church on Sunday, what will you do? Will you complain that the music is too loud? Will you check out because the song was written before 1999? Will you focus on your own problems?
Or will you worship?