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Worship Matters                                                   March  2022            

A quote I heard recently has caused me to pause and think. Does that ever happen to you? It went something like this, “The church does not exist as a platform for our gifts; rather, our gifts exist in order to serve the church”.  Years ago, a man who regularly played worship on my team wanted to introduce a certain song to the church we attended. It was a great song! But there were a few trouble spots theologically, and a couple of tricky parts lyrically, and in the end, we never introduced the song. He was quite upset about this. He loved that song because it showcased his talents well, and it was just so much fun to play. The “cool” factor was high. It was clear that his focus was not on praising God in spirit and in truth, but on having a great time on stage with his electric guitar. I am picking on this poor guy, but I am quite sure I’ve been guilty of the same thing.

In the 90’s and early 2000’s many worship teams experimented with guitar riffs and even entire songs from secular music. I recall in a church in BC we played, “Where the Streets Have No Name” by the popular band U2 because the Pastor wanted to work it into his sermon, and he was also on the worship team that week. We had to be the coolest church in the city that Sunday! I don’t think it was wrong to play that song or even to have a great time playing it, but our focus certainly was more on the experience than about worshipping in spirit and in truth.

Using our gifts for the Lord and to serve the church is honourable and right. However, there is always a tension, because we are human. Our flesh wants its moment. After all, don’t we deserve some recognition and a little fun because of all the work we are doing? A hard question to ask as a worship team member is, “Am I playing this song because it showcases my voice or guitar talents well, or because it glorifies God?” Ouch.

I’m glad that worship music around the globe is experiencing a strong movement toward purity and true worship in recent years. There isn’t anything wrong with the enjoyment of music or celebrating excellence in playing music. One might rightly say God gave us these gifts to enjoy. However, sometimes we need to examine our motives. When it comes to praising and honouring the Saviour, we should come with honesty and humility concerning our heart attitude. Worship is about Him. If our identity is wrapped up in what we are doing for God, regardless of the gift, then it is tied to the wrong thing. Our identity as believers must instead be rooted in who we are in Christ, because of Christ. We are carrying the gift, but it belongs to Him.

Vineyard founder John Wimber once said, “The real test in these days is not going to be in the writing of new and great worship music, the real test is going to be in the godliness and character of those who deliver it.”  How can we serve joyfully in our gifting, without granting our flesh the platform it craves? I don’t claim to know the answer, but it likely has something to do with making more of Christ, and less of me. If we lift our eyes to the Giver, the gift will stay in its rightful place.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.   1 Peter 4:10                        --P. Graham 

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