What a wonderful experience we had at worship this morning as the worship team blew us through the roof with sound and energy. It seemed like they were trying to call God down from heaven with all the sweating and gyrating. They must have wanted to make sure we heard Him loud and clear with repeated lyrics and loud sounds of praise. The worship team had us sway to the music. The tempos made us feel like David dancing before the ark of the covenant. What more could one want?
As we left the sanctuary our ears were still ringing from the multiple decibels of sound penetrating our eardrums as they searched for a place in our hearts. Oh what a morning and what was the message again? We love you, oh God. We lift up our hearts to you. We seek to know you better. Our hope is in you. Give us our daily bread. Heal us from all our pain. Give us a comfortable life. Take us through the valleys. Please don’t forget to show up next Sunday at our next showing of faithfulness for another round of worship if something more important doesn’t get in our way.
The moment is past. The doors of the church have closed behind us for another week. Our hour of escape has come and gone. We stand in silence listening for the rustling of the trees and the real sounds of the day that dominate our lives. We will ponder and miss that hour or two as we joined hands together creating God in the Sanctuary.
That picture reminded me of the prophet Elijah. One day when the kingdom called into question his traditional values he confronted the powers that be with strong protestations for worshiping the wrong God. They threatened him with his life and he ran away because he felt rejected. He sat down under a tree feeling sorry for himself because he was told that what he was doing was not relevant to the times. God showed up and took him to the mountain for a lesson in how it works.
Before him came an earthquake. I guess that was equivalent to the woofers (voice of the theater speakers) of the day. God was not in the earthquake. Then came a fire. That must have been God’s equivalent to a light show but God was not in the fire. God then spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. Just think! God came in a still small voice. It was in the silence of the moment after all the brouhaha was finished. It was after the lights had gone out and the doors were closed to all the world’s capacity to imitate through human energy what they hoped maybe God would do. God reached out and touched the life of Elijah in his still small voice.
While we’re banging and clanging on our drums. While we are hovering around our candles and incense waving the bull roarer around our heads. While we’re trying to relate to people in a way that will not offend their worldly sensitivities, God might be wanting for us to “Be Still and know that He is God.”
Trying to get the attention of a self satisfied population is difficult and requires that we have something to say that will change their lives. The Bible states that there is a winnowing process in the harvesting where the sheaves of wheat are thrown up into the air. The real grains of wheat fall to the ground and the empty chaff is blown away. When the Gospel is preached with power there is not always elation but tension because it requires that people repent and turn from their sinful self-centered ways.
The presentation of the gospel takes people out of their comfort zone. It unseats people from using the church as a perch for their mahjong party or a service club It requires a life changing transformation as one becomes a member of the body of Christ. The Gospel is not medicine for the sick, it is life for the dead. A true worship service needs no crutches of form because God is present wherever and whenever the saints join together in one accord for the purpose of being one mind and spirit in Christ. It is Christ as the potter who shapes the clay into the form He has for us to be.
A user friendly approach to worship is often not worship at all but a moment when in the name of religion it castes its net with an ever growing dependency on human rather than divine effort. The church is creating a reliance on religion rather than regeneration for its building blocks. It suffers from frustration as it tries to get the attention of people who know they can’t make heaven alone but don’t want to get real about what it takes for them to qualify to get through the gate.
Now for the disclaimer: I know that the majority of churches are using contemporary music in their worship settings today. I am not trying to criticize the worth of this medium but only to remind us that what we are caught up in does not always give a proper path to drilling deep into the truths of the word of God and the expectation of God for spiritual growth in our lives and a commitment to holiness. God help us if we are promoting “Gospel Lite” to the lives of our constituency. This is a shot across the bow in building a case of caution for those who feel that they are indeed creating something that God can’t create in the silence of the moment.