Monday, December 15, 2008

Worship Styles

The issue of worship styles is like the issue of abortion.  Everyone has an opinion; everyone hope that their side will win; but no hit of an end is coming soon.

This issue was raised once again this weekend.  Some people don't want to attend a certain service because the worship leader that is not of their style will be leading.  Hmmm.

"Why don't you like his style?" I asked.

Their response, "We just don't.  We know that some people do, but we just can't worship to that style of music."

I return, "Then is it worship that you are doing when the music is of your choosing, or are you just feeling good?"

They didn't understand me. But that's OK.

Worship to me is about service not about feelings.  It is hard to think about the word in a modern Western mindset because we are not encouraged to worship anyone.

So, think back to a time when there were kings and queens ruling the world.  Worship is a monarchical term--It's from the world of all powerful rulers.

A subject was to worship a king.  He would do this in several ways.  First, he would serve the king to provide him with a great bounty or victory.  Second, in the king's presence, the subject would lower himself so the kings greatness was demonstrated.

Interesting, when you look that way, I don't see any reason that worship was about making the subject feel good.  Sure, feeling good may be a side benefit if the kingdom prospers, but the king was still the one who decided if the subject was to receive any benefit at all.  The subject just served.

Music may be part of the worship of a king.  For those who are gifted, the king may offer a ministry of music.  Songs being powerful motivators may be part of the gathering of the subjects but the song would certainly be chosen by the king, not those gathering.

I can't find a single verse in the scripture that connect worship with music.  You know, something like, "David worshiped God by playing his favorite songs."  There are examples of wonderful music in both Testaments, but I wonder if it is more notable that the words used for worship mean "to pay homage" which means to pay respect.  The word for worshiper (λατρεύω) comes from a word that mean "to serve."

It doesn't sound like these terms are about me feeling good when I do it.  It sounds like the focus is always on the king.  If the focus is on God when we worship, why do we need to enjoy the music at all? If we serve a King who desires our obedience as our sacrifice isn't our obedience to His commandments the greatest worship.  And if the greatest commandment is to love God and love others isn't worship then the way we demonstrate great love to God and others?

And if someone else is hurting or lost and needs what the church has to offer, is the most loving thing to break down walls that would make them feel uncomfortable?  Perhaps our music is that thing.

So I ask one last question about worship...
Is is possible that the greatest form of worship might be when I put myself into a place where I'm completely uncomfortable, with music I can't understand and that hurts my ears, in order that I might help save a new generation of hurting people for the love of God?

I'm not sure we can call feeling good worship at all.