Worship is a relationship.
The way He wants us to worship Him is not the way we want to worship Him.
What is this relationship?
In a loving and committed relationship we serve each other. That’s the normal behavior of all of us. Is you friend hurting? You put your arm around him or her. Sometimes you hug. Other time you sit and talk. But no matter how you do it you help your friend the way your friend needs helped.
Guys, do you know what your wife likes? Do you buy her flowers or something else that expresses your affections in the way she wants to see? Ladies, do you know the things he likes? Your wife likes chick flicks. You don’t. Do you express your love by watching Die Hard? Or will you sit with her for an evening of Hallmark Mysteries? Or worse, window shopping at the mall? What if your husband likes war movies? Will you actually watch The Great Escape with him? Or will you go to another room?
Nobody (with any developed moral sense) whose friend is hurting goes and steals from that friend, gossips about it, or does anything that would be unnecessarily painful.
We’re in His house (We are His house)
What are the things that please the Lord? These things we all know: The pure heart and the life that matches. Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Worship also often involves physical submission. Deuteronomy 9:25:
I lay prostrate before the LORD those forty days and forty nights because the LORD had said he would destroy you.
Paul expands on this to the committed and resolved mind and body of the believer: Romans 12:1-2
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Volumes have been written and no simple post like this can think of touching the great works of the past. I’ve not even touched on the praise aspect of worship, the thing that often takes the place of the full scope of worship.The point here remains the simplest: The basic and clear things are the things we often avoid with.the most energy. Nobody likes to be called to commitment or repentance, but that’s worship.
Nostalgia is death
The negative side needs to be explored as well. Or rather the negative question. What is not worship? That’s tougher. And it may be even more offensive to our sentiments.
Today churches are still divided by worship (more precisely, praise) style. But it’s more than style. We are stuck in a consumerist society where we buy the worship we want. We ask the people what make them happy. We so easily miss what worship pleases the Lord and appeal to what makes us comfortable.
During the 70s “Jesus movement” era I had the pleasure of meeting young believers who had come out of the drug culture. They had no point of reference for their worship and praise so they did the best they could. Most notably they would sing Amazing Grace to the melody of House of the Rising Sun. The loved the lyrics and they loved their music.
But that’s different than today. Today we get our CCLI license and sing the music that makes the congregation comfortable. It’s that principle of “felt need” and “relevance” that have taken the place of a changed life. Everyone gets paid.
It’s a sweet gig. The movie I Can Only Imagine exposed this. One of the plot lines had to do with the group wanting to be great, to be popular. It was even asked specifically toward the end of the movie. There is no greed in worship.
At the same time the traditional hymn provides comfort. You’ll see two common responses to the choice of music. On the one hand people will discuss the rich lyrics of so many hymns. But on the other hand there is the “we’ve always sung these songs” attitude. That’s the problem.
Nostalgia is not worship. History has value, of course. But the pretense that things were somehow better back when is a deceptive one. Nostalgia is romanticism. Nostalgia avoids the question of today and appeals to the emotion and sentimentality. Through nostalgia we flatter ourselves.
Reconciling the Relationship
It’s hard to be self-correcting in, well, most everything. Worship is about Him and is not about us.